When worship leader Chris Tomlin met Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard at the gym, he had no idea he and the country star would end up collaborating on a mainstream country album.
“In May of last year, Tyler and I were both at the same vacation spot in Florida and happened to meet at the gym,” the Grammy winner and multi-Platinum singer-songwriter told The Christian Post. “He told me how much my music meant to him and his wife, and I was floored. I mean, he’s a huge country superstar.”
Growing up, Hubbard sang Tomlin’s songs in church. As a student at Belmont, Hubbard attended a Passion Conference where the “How Great is our God” singer led worship — and there decided to become a worship leader himself.
“Tyler and [bandmate] Brian actually started out as a worship duo because of that conference before launching into country, and the rest is history,” Tomlin said. “He said that meeting me felt like a musical full circle.”
The two soon developed a “friendship and brotherhood” and it wasn’t long before they found themselves in the writing room together.
“We started writing songs and realized that, ‘Wow, this is really different, really fun,’” the 21-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award winner said. “It really felt God-ordained, because we weren’t looking to make an album, but that’s exactly what we did.”
The result of the duo’s chance encounter was Chris Tomlin & Friends, an album Tomlin — who has sold over 7 million albums over his career — described as “the perfect smash up of the country and Christian genres.”
For the album, Tomlin, Hubbard and FGL’s Brian Kelley rounded up their superstar friends, including Thomas Rhett, Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum), Brett Young, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear Rinehart, and others.
Florida Georgia Line also collaborated with Tomlin on multiple songs and served as executive producers on the album, while chart-topping songwriter Corey Crowder produced 12 out of 13 tracks.