Week Ending Sept. 2, 2012. Albums: TobyMac’s Prayers Answered
TobyMac this week becomes the first Contemporary Christian artist to land a #1 album in more than 15 years. Toby Mac, a former member of the rock/hip-hop Christian trio DC Talk, achieves the feat with Eye On It, his fifth regular studio album as a solo artist. The last Contemporary Christian artist to land a #1 album was Bob Carlisle, who scored in June 1997 with Butterfly Kisses (Shades Of Grace).
One other act that specializes in religious music has landed a #1 album: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir scored in January 1960 with The Lord's Prayer.
Two inspirational albums by superstar artists reached #1 in 1997, but they were more secular than religious in content (and the artists are far better known for their secular releases). They are LeAnn Rimes' You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs and Barbra Streisand's Higher Ground. Both albums included the inspirational ballad "I Believe," which was a hit in 1953 for both Jane Froman and Frankie Laine.
Eye On It is the first album since Rimes' You Light Up My Life to reach #1 on both The Billboard 200 and Top Christian Albums. Butterfly Kisses (Shades Of Grace) also topped both charts. Streisand's Higher Ground did not, I guess because she's Jewish.
Four Contemporary Christian groups debuted and peaked at #2 in recent years: Casting Crowns (with 2007's The Altar And The Door and 2011's Come To The Well), Underoath (with 2006's Define The Great Line), Skillet (with 2009's Awake), Red (with 2011's Until We Have Faces) and David Crowder Band (with Give Us Rest in January).
DC Talk's first three studio albums, from 1989 to 1992, didn't crack The Billboard 200. The band first charted in 1995 with the album Jesus Freak. It peaked with its final album, Supernatural, which went top 10 in 1998. Toby Mac (real name: Kevin McKeehan) went solo in 2001 with Momentum. Eye On It is his third top 10 album as a solo artist. It follows Portable Sounds (#10 in 2007) and Tonight (#6 in 2010).
Eye On It sold 35K digital copies this week (out of 69K total), which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.