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The Year in Gospel Charts 2020: Kanye West Rules Once Again as Top Artist

Billboard’s Top Gospel Artist of 2020 is Kanye West, who repeats from his 2019 triumph. The superstar is also the top male gospel artist this year.

On the year-end Top Christian Artists category, West finishes as the No. 2 act for the year, behind Lauren Daigle.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 23, 2019, through Nov. 14, 2020. The rankings for Nielsen Music/MRC Data-based year-end recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology detail, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

Explore All of Billboard’s 2020 Year-End Charts 

West’s 2019 album, his first spiritual-themed set, Jesus Is King, opened atop Top Gospel Albums, Top Christian Albums and the all-genre Billboard 200. In its opening week on the Nov. 9, 2019, dated lists, the set earned 264,000 equivalent album units, the biggest week ever for a faith-based album. Since its arrival, Jesus Is King has spent more than a year at No. 1 and is the No. 1 album on the Top Gospel Albums year-end tally.

The No. 2 Christian Album of 2020 also comes from West’s world. Jesus Is Born, credited to the Sunday Service Choir (with production by West), finishes in the runner-up position. The album was released on Dec. 25, 2019. After just a day-and-a-half of tracking, Jesus Is Born entered Billboard‘s Top Gospel Albums chart (dated Jan. 4, 2020) at No. 2 starting with 6,000 equivalent album units earned (3,000 in album sales) in the week ending Dec. 26, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Jesus Is Born peaked at No. 2 on Top Gospel Albums, not making it to the summit only because West’s own Jesus Is King LP was dominating at No. 1. Sunday Service Choir is also the leading gospel group of 2020.

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Meanwhile, the lead track on Jesus Is King, “Follow God,” is the No. 1 song of the year on Hot Gospel Songs, which is powered by streaming, airplay and sales. “Follow God” has spent more than 40 weeks at No. 1. Concurrently, it is the No. 1 song on the year-end Gospel Streaming Songs list and No. 2 on Gospel Digital Song Sales.

Plus, West’s “Wash Us in the Blood,” featuring Travis Scott, is the No. 4 Hot Gospel Songs title of 2020. “Wash Us” started at No. 1 on both Hot Gospel Songs and Hot Christian Songs on the surveys dated July 11. It reigned for eight weeks on the former and two frames on the latter. It’s also the No. 1 song of 2020 on Gospel Digital Song Sales.

Meanwhile, the Top Female Artist of 2020 is Tasha Cobbs Leonard, who is No. 3 on the overall ranking, coming in behind West and Kirk Franklin. Cobbs Leonard places two sets in the Top Gospel Albums’ year-end list; her 2017 album Heart, Passion, Pursuit, which bowed in the penthouse and spent 29 frames there, is the No. 3 album of the year. The set has yet to leave the weekly top 10 of the Top Gospel Albums chart since its debut on the list on Sept. 16, 2017.

Cobbs Leonard’s first Top Gospel Albums appearance, her 2013 EP Grace, is her second top 10 of 2020, coming in at No. 9 for the year.

In 2020, Cobbs Leonard scored her fifth No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums. Royalty: Live at the Ryman blasted in atop the chart dated Oct. 10 with 3,000 units. The 17-track Royalty was initially intended to be recorded live in front of a crowd at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cobbs Leonard opted to record it at the historic setting without an audience.

In July, Cobbs Leonard added to her Top Gospel Albums top 10 tally when her EP Intercession arrived at No. 3. To date, she has notched five No. 1s among six top 10s.

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Billboard’s Top New Gospel Artist of 2020 is the gospel and Christian worship music collective Maverick City Music. The act’s album Maverick City, Vol. 3: Part 1 is at No. 4 on the year-end list and Maverick City, Vol. 3: Part 2 is No. 38. The collective, based in Atlanta, features well-known artists from both Contemporary Christian and Gospel, including Chandler Moore, Bri Babineaux, We the Kingdom and Steffany Gretzinger, among others.

Also, Billboard’s No. 2 Gospel Music Artist of 2020 as well as ranking second in the male column is superstar Kirk Franklin. His hit “Love Theory” is the No. 2 track of the year on Hot Gospel Songs. It arrived at No. 1 in February 2019 and has spent more than 44 weeks in the penthouse, including five frames during the 2020 chart year. Franklin’s “Just for Me,” which topped the Gospel Airplay chart in June, becoming his seventh leader, ranks at No. 4 on the Gospel Airplay year-end list.

Finally, the No. 1 Gospel Airplay song of the year is Pastor Mike Jr.’s “Big.” The single ruled for 10 weeks starting in February, becoming the artist’s lone No. 1 so far. Pastor Mike Jr. is the No. 12 Top Gospel Artist of 2020 and No. 6 in the male category.