Here are four current worship artists which I really like, and I like each of them for different reasons.
AUSTIN STONE WORSHIP
Austin Stone is a church in Austin (…you probably could have guessed that) which first gained some fame due to their original worship director being Chris Tomlin. However, their worship ministry as a ministry didn’t really take off until after Tomlin left to launch Passion City Church. During Tomlin’s time at Austin Stone, because of his touring schedule he was more of an itinerant worship leader.
Over the last few years, their new team of worship leaders has a heart both for their church and for contributing to worship music as a whole. Their songs are musically relevant and theologically dense. They use modern song structures, but aim to have the Christ-centered focus of many hymns of the past.
Likewise, they offer extensive resources on their website, and will be hosting a worship conference in a couple of weeks. I don’t know how well know their band is outside of central Texas, but I can imagine their influence expanding greatly in the coming years.
BROOK HILLS MUSIC
Brook Hills Church is primarily known for their best selling lead pastor David Platt, but they also have a vibrant worship ministry. Much like Austin Stone, their songs aim to have a greater depth in their lyrics. Musically they have a bit of variety based on who is leading the band on a given song.
Click here to go to their website.
Elevation Worship is quickly moving approaching the worship A-list. I first heard of them about six months before they started to explode. I stumbled upon them in early 2009, and actually visited their church in May 2009. I was pretty well hooked since that visit. A couple of their songs were actually better live than on their album.
What I love about them is their willingness to experiment musically. If you just listen to one of their live albums, this wouldn’t be immediately obvious. Their default sound is essentially Hillsong/Passion 2.0. However, they never settle for just using their default sound. Their latest album was originally conceived of as a studio project. Most of the songs were heavily programmed and featured a great deal of synth sounds. Later in production they decided to record a live album which offered very different arrangements of many of the songs.
But there albums alone really sell their creativity short. If you follow their blog online, you realize the depths of the creativity on a weekly basis. If you check out the top video below, it’s a version of “All Creatures of Our God and King” where the lead vocals are run through a vocoder and auto-tuner. It’s a great arrangement that they merely released on their YouTube channel. Likewise, they frequently release free remix EPs or children’s EPs of their songs.
As someone who lives variety and creativity, I love what they’re doing. My one critique would be, I don’t feel they’ve ever tried to go terribly deep, but they also avoid being too man-centered.