Chris Tomlin on Collaborating With Florida Georgia Line: 'None of Us Saw It Coming' (Exclusive)

Last month, Chris Tomlin released his new album, Chris Tomlin & Friends, which was a collaboration between the Christian star and a number of country artists including Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Brett Young, RaeLynn and more. The project was executive produced by Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who also co-wrote much of the material and feature on multiple songs.

Speaking to PopCulture.com, Tomlin revealed that he didn't even know many of his collaborators on Chris Tomlin & Friends one year ago and was first introduced to Hubbard in a chance encounter at a hotel gym in Florida. "[Hubbard] goes, 'This is full circle in my life.' I'll never forget him saying that," Tomlin recalled, sharing that Hubbard told him that while in college, he attended a conference called Passion that Tomlin led and decided at that moment that he wanted to be an entertainer.

"He said, 'I think we're supposed to be bros. I think we're supposed to hang. We're supposed to write songs. Let's do some music together,'" Tomlin said. He soon met Kelley and the trio began writing songs, "never thinking" anything would come of it. "Wasn't anything like that," Tomlin explained. "We said, 'Let's write, let's smash up our genres let's smash it all up. Just write songs, see what happens and see what comes out.' And since then that's been a year ago."

As they continued writing together, the group realized that they had something special on their hands and invited other friends to be part of the project. "We started saying, 'Man, there's something to this, these songs are pretty special. I think there's something to this,'" Tomlin shared. "'Let's get some more people here kind of like-minded, like faith, who have a real heart to do a record like this, to bring glory to God, to, to be a light in the, in the world and let their fans kind of let them in on kind of the faith side of their life that they really don't sing about as much in their music, let's do this together.'"

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"The beautiful thing about it, it wasn't labels or wasn't managers that came together and said, 'Hey, if we put all these people together,'" the Christian star mused of the project. "It wasn't like it wasn't contrived that way. It was really just born out of friendship, out of these new friendships that happened just completely out of the blue. None of us saw it coming." He also praised Hubbard and Kelley for their hard work, sharing that it was "really cool" they were able "to do this together," calling it a "real collaboration."

"It wasn't just my project where they just kind of helped out. The whole thing was it feels like our project together. And they kept saying, 'You, you put your name on it, it be your record, but we'll make this together.' So that was, that was real special."