Before embarking on his solo career in the Christian genre, singer-songwriter Zach Williams, 41, from Jonesboro, Arkansas, fronted a rock band, Zach Williams & The Reformation, which launched in 2007.
The outfit earned a good-sized fanbase that extended to Europe, but after several tours, an admitted “reckless lifestyle” and a wake-up call, via a song and his wife on one of his darkest nights, he returned home to Arkansas and worked as an associate pastor in a local church.
That’s the short version of a compelling history that Williams recounts as he catches up for a Billboard Chart Beat Podcast with Nashville-based senior chart manager Jim Asker. The pair chatted ahead of the release of Williams’ second solo set, Rescue Story, on Oct. 4.
Meanwhile, the new album’s title-track lead single hits the top 10 on both Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay on the latest, Sept. 28-dated surveys, and Williams performs an exclusive live version on the podcast.
In a short time, Williams has become one of the most successful artists in Christian music. His first solo hit, “Chain Breaker,” the title cut from his first LP, ruled Hot Christian Songs for nine weeks and Christian Airplay for 15 frames starting in late 2016. Second single “Old Church Choir” led Hot Christian Songs for a week and Christian Airplay for a whopping 20 frames, the second-longest command in the latter list’s archives. The set spun off two more Christian chart hits: “Fear Is a Liar” and “Survivor.”
“I hear their stories, I hear their struggles. They’re the same as mine,” Williams muses of his fans. “I don’t pretend to have it all together, or try to be better than anyone else. I just wanted to write a record that felt real and honest. I think if you do that, the connections to the songs are going to be there.”
Plus, co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, open the podcast by discussing the latest Billboard Hot 100 action for Lizzo, who earns an historic fourth week at No. 1 with “Truth Hurts,” and Lil Nas X, who adds his second top 10, “Panini,” after ruling for a record 19 weeks with “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.
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