Christian singer-songwriter performs Ocala concert

Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin will play a concert Thursday at Ocala's First Baptist Church.

Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 7:26 p.m.

For Ocalan Kim Pons, Thursday can't come too soon.



What: Top-selling Christian singer Chris Tomlin in concert.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Doors open 6:30 p.m.

Where: First Baptist Church of Ocala, 2801 S.E. Maricamp Road

Cost: $26 for adults, $22 for students; group rates available. Call 866-440-7880 or order online at Tickets also are available through the church at or from Gabriel's Christian Book & Supply, 40 East Shopping Center off Southeast 36th Avenue.



Chris Tomlin's music can be heard on The JOY FM: 88.1 in Ocala and 91.7 in Gainesville.

Tomlin's rendition of "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" is No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Adult Contemporary Music chart.

The Contemporary Christian Music Association has Tomlin at No. 4 on the charts.

Radio & Records named "Amazing Grace" as the most played song of the week for Christian Adult Contemporary music.

Tomlin won five Dove Awards in 2006.

Tomlin's 2007 Dove Awards were Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year awards; a trophy for "Holy is the Lord," a song he co-wrote with Louie Giglio; and Special Event Album of the Year for "Passion: Everything Glorious." His most recent release, "See the Morning," garnered him two more awards for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Praise & Worship Album of the Year.

This is when Chris Tomlin will kick off his Central Florida tour at Ocala's First Baptist Church. This is big, Pons contends. Very big. The contemporary Christian singer/songwriter with 11 Dove Awards on his shelves also has the No. 1 Christian single in the country this week.

Tomlin's numerous praise songs, including "How Great is Our God," "We Fall Down," "Holy is the Lord" and "Indescribable," are among the most popular worship songs in Christian churches across the nation. Pons' favorite is "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)," a new version of the old spiritual that is now the No. 1 song on Billboard's Christian Adult Contemporary chart.

"That song totally touched me," said Pons. "It's uplifting. It gives you confidence. It gives you faith. Of course, I'm really anxious to see him. That's the first thing I thought of - wow! 'Amazing Grace.' He's coming to town."

Arranged by Sarasota-based The JOY FM radio network, the Ocala concert will take place in FBC's 2,800-seat sanctuary.

"We do a lot of his music in our contemporary worship service," said the FBC's minister of media, Don DePew. "His music is written in such a way that you worship. People are drawn closer to Jesus, and that's why we do it. I hope somebody walks into our building and leaves a little bit closer to Jesus than when they came."

Tickets are selling fast in Ocala, said Carmen Brown, program director for The Joy FM.

"Ironically, the Ocala show is the one that has sold the most tickets. The larger markets are used to concerts. Ocala probably doesn't get as many, so it's a bigger deal," Brown said. "We love Ocala. I just think the listeners in that area, we just have a special relationship. So this is our gift to our listeners in Ocala."

A member of JOY FM's Morning Cruise team with Dave and Bill, Brown said the three radio personalities are planning to introduce Tomlin at the Ocala show.

"He definitely has a way of just bringing people in to worship full-time," Brown said. "He wants to let people know that we're not just singing to the walls; we have a creator that hears us."

According to Billboard, Tomlin was born Christopher Dwayne Tomlin in 1972 in Grand Saline, Texas. He grew up with country music, and his father taught him how to play the guitar. He received Jesus Christ as his savior at age nine and wrote his first praise song at 14.

Tomlin began studying medicine at Texas A&M University but dropped out to get involved in a Christian outreach that evolved into Passion events, a nationwide campus ministry. In addition to leading worship for Passion, Tomlin is on staff at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas. He continues to write praise songs, and he records for Six Steps Records, the Billboard Web site stated.

The Gospel Music Association presented Tomlin five Dove Awards in 2006, and he won six more trophies at the 2007 Dove Awards in April.

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