Music & Nightlife

Chris Tomlin’s goal: Touching right chord

Life has kept Chris Tomlin busy since he headlined a tour in Charlotte in 2009.

The Christian artist has released three new albums and won several Grammy and Dove awards. Oh, and he’s also gotten married and had two children since then.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I love Charlotte and I love the area. Honestly, this is one of the cities that was important to me to play because it’s been a while.”

He’ll stop in Charlotte Sunday night at Time Warner Cable Arena to share his new music and the life lessons he’s learned over the last several years as part of his Love Ran Red Tour, named after his latest album. Tenth Avenue North and Rend Collective will open the concert.

“Both of these bands are at the top of our genre of music. They’re the best,” he said.

Tomlin, 42, plans to mix the songs off his latest album with fan favorites from the past. When he goes to concerts, he said, “I always get frustrated when they play all the new songs. The reason I’m here is because of the stuff I love. I’m very mindful of that.”

Some of Tomlin’s most popular past songs include such worship classics as “How Great Is Our God,” “Our God” and “Indescribable.”

Love Ran Red, his 10th studio recording, has also been fairly well-received since October. It features “Waterfall,” the album’s first hit single, as well as “Jesus Loves Me,” which takes an older and wiser look at a simple message many hear in childhood.

Tomlin believes that many people will be able to hear their story in “Jesus Loves Me.”

“All of us on this journey with God, the longer you live … you find yourself wondering if it’s really true, if it’s really that simple that Jesus loves me,” he said. “It’s easier to sing when you’re 3 years old than when you’re 30 years old or 40 years old.”

The song, he said, is about coming back to “that simple truth,” that God’s grace is always available.

“You can’t outrun the presence of God, you can’t hide from the presence of God,” he said. “I always try to sing about the greatness of God and the grace of God and drawing close to him even in your most desperate times. I think the song touches a chord because of that.”

Tomlin said he’s looking forward to sharing God’s message of hope with a larger audience. During his last two headliner stops in Charlotte, he’s performed at Bojangles’ Coliseum, which seats roughly 9,600 people. Time Warner Cable Arena has a capacity of more than 20,000.

And while the current worship leader at Passion City Church in Atlanta says he enjoys performing in churches, he noted that there’s something particularly invigorating about performing in arenas.

“When people come into churches, they think, ‘Ah it’s church. I’ve got to be quiet,’” he said. “People in arenas feel a little more free. … You get more of a cross section of people than you would get in church.”

Still, Tomlin said he can’t limit his measure of success to filled arenas. His primary motivation is to act as a channel for people to hear God’s message.

“I have a great expectation of people having an encounter with the Lord through these songs,” he said.

His concerts, he believes, are a great way for non-Christians to explore the faith, calling it a “nonthreatening” venue to learn about God.

“Music has a special way of reaching the soul. It has a special way of communicating when nothing else can,” he said. “If you’re searching and seeking, it’s a great place to come. … I think people will be very happy they were part of the night.”

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PREVIEW

Chris Tomlin

With Tenth Avenue North and Rend Collective.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.

TICKETS: $19.50-$56.

DETAILS: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.

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