Billboard’s Top Christian Artist of 2019 is Lauren Daigle, who achieved plenty of crossover play in 2019 and now enjoys full-fledged star status. The 28-year-old Daigle from Lafayette, Louisiana, repeats from her reign in 2018. Daigle places two titles in the top five on the year-end Top Christian Albums tally: Her latest set, Look up Child is atop the list, while her 2015 breakthrough album How Can It Be ranks at No. 3.
Child flew in at No. 1 on the weekly Top Christian Albums chart dated Sept. 22, 2018, and at No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard 200, with 115,000 equivalent album units earned, according to Nielsen Music. At the time, it marked the biggest week for any Christian set in units earned since the charts began ranking albums by equivalent album units in late 2014.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the charts dated Nov. 24, 2018, to Nov. 16, 2019. Data registered before or after a title’s chart run is not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-to-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music.
Child then proceeded to roll up more weeks atop Top Christian Albums than any other title, since the tally became a weekly survey, and adopted Nielsen Music data, in April 1995. Child, which has spent more than 50 frames in the penthouse, broke the record during its 39th week at No. 1, on the tally dated July 20 this year. During that week, Child passed Switchfoot’s album The Beautiful Letdown, which ruled for 38 frames in 2004-05.
Child’s performance was sparked by the singer-songwriter’s multi-genre hit “You Say,” which is the No. 1 song of 2019 on the streaming-, airplay and sales based Hot Christian Songs survey.
Daigle’s “Say” is now the longest-running No. 1 title on the weekly Hot Christian Songs chart. It nudged past the former longest-running track, Hillsong United’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” whey “Say” rolled into its 62nd week at the apex. “Say” extended its record and has now spent 66 weeks at No. 1.
“Say” also posted a two-week command on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at No. 29 on the Hot 100.
The No. 2 track on the year-end Hot Christian Songs ranking is for KING & COUNTRY’s hit, “God Only Knows,” which is No. 1 on the year-end 2019 Christian Airplay Songs recap. The duo, made up of brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone, place at No. 2 for 2019 among all Christian acts, and tops in the duo/group category.
“Knows” peaked at No. 2 on Hot Christian Songs on the March 9 dated survey and held in the runner-up spot for a record 23 weeks — many of those weeks behind Daigle’s “You Say.”
On Christian Airplay, “Knows” ruled for 10 weeks, the longest reign for the duo among its five No. 1s.
The album, which produced “Knows,” Burn the Ships, is the No. 4 title for 2019 on the year-end Top Christian Albums tally. Ships became the Smallbone brothers’ first No. 1 on Top Christian Albums, on the chart dated Oct. 20, 2018, when it debuted atop the list.
The leading Christian male artist of the year is Kanye West, who finishes as the No. 3 overall artist. In the Gospel category, West rules among all artists and he’s the top male artist.
West’s first spiritual album, Jesus Is King, debuted atop Top Christian Albums, Top Gospel Albums, as well as the Billboard 200 on the tallies dated Nov. 9, with 264,000 equivalent album units earned in its first week. The set marked the biggest unit week on Top Christian Albums and Top Gospel Albums since Billboard began measuring the weekly popularity of albums by equivalent album units earned in late 2014. Jesus Is King is the No. 2 album for the year on Top Christian Albums and the year-end No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums.
Additionally, the album sparked history on both Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs. West became the first artist to occupy the entire top 10 on both lists, which were launched in 2003 and 2005, respectively. On Hot Gospel Songs, the hip-hop superstar actually monopolized the top 11, thanks to every song from the album.
The top new Christian artist for 2019 is the group Switch, who act as the house band for Life. Church, which has more than 30 locations across the U.S. Switch is one of the new worship music collectives to surface which we touched on earlier. Switch’s debut single, “Symphony,” featuring Dillon Chase peaked at No. 5 on Hot Christian Songs and No. 3 on Christian Airplay in August. It was also the first chart appearance for Chase.
Meanwhile, Billboard’s top Gospel female artist for 2019 is Tasha Cobbs Leonard. Among all artists, Leonard came in third.
Leonard’s LP, Heart. Passion. Pursuit.: Live at Passion City Church opened at the Top Gospel Albums pinnacle on November 17, 2018 with 3,000 units, awarding the artist with her fourth leader.
The album’s “You Know My Name (Live)” is No. 4 on the year-end Gospel Airplay Songs list and No. 7 on Hot Gospel Songs. The track initially crowned Gospel Airplay, leading the chart the week of Oct. 19; giving Leonard her third No. 1. On Hot Gospel Songs “Name” reached No. 2 in February.
In the year-end Gospel duo/group category, The Tri-City Singers finish at No. 1. The act’s name represents the three cities which the members of the choir originate from: Spartanburg, SC, Gastonia, NC and Charlotte, NC. The group is widely known as Gospel artist Donald Lawrence’s key collaborators. In February, Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers’, Goshen started at No. 2 on Top Gospel Albums with 2,000 units.
Also, the set’s lead single; “Deliver Me (This is My Exodus)” which also featured Le’ Andria Johnson, placed as the No. 1 song for 2019 on Gospel Airplay. It comes in at No. 3 on the year-end Hot Gospel Songs ranking.
Plus, Billboard’s new Gospel artist for 2019 is Fred Jerkins, who is also known as “Uncle Freddie.” Jerkins, an Atlanta native and recognized as a producer before venturing out as an artist, sent his debut solo-single, “Victory,” featuring Last Call, to No. 1 on Gospel Airplay on the chart dated April 13 for its first of two weeks atop the list. It peaked at No.3 on Hot Gospel Songs. “Victory” is No. 6 on the year-end Gospel Airplay survey and No. 23 on Hot Gospel Songs.
The year in Gospel music can’t end without a mention of one of the genre’s biggest stars, Kirk Franklin. If not for Kanye West’s huge splash at the end of 2019, Franklin would have easily been the top artist for the year. He comes in second overall as well as in the male artist column.
Franklin’s smash “Love Theory” crowns the year-end Hot Gospel Songs list and is No. 2 on Gospel Airplay. The track dominated Hot Gospel Songs for 39 frames after entering at No. 1 on Feb. 9. It ruled Gospel Airplay for 15 weeks after reaching the summit on April 27.
On the charts dated June 15, Franklin made history when he became the first artist to top all five of Billboard’s main Gospel charts simultaneously. His album, Long Live Love arrived atop Top Gospel Albums as it earned 20,000 equivalent album units. That same week, the single, “Love Theory,” led Hot Gospel Songs, Gospel Airplay and Gospel Streaming Songs, while another track from the LP, “OK,” hit the top of Gospel Digital Song Sales.