This post comes straight from a question I got a few days ago. Who are some Christian artists who influenced me? Here goes nothing:

1) Rich Mullins – When Mac and I started a Christian band, we thought we were pioneers. I mean, we were aware of Petra, Carman, and the like, but we had no idea there was such a huge Christian music scene. Not long after we started what would become Third Day, a friend invited us to a Rich Mullins show in Atlanta. I knew absolutely none of his songs, and came away a lifelong fan. I loved how he was so personal from stage, and somehow challenging at the same time. I loved that he used all the eclectic instruments. I ran home and bought a mandolin and a mountain dulcimer. While those elements never really fit us, and we ended up doing straight up Southern rock instead, he was the first huge influence on us. Most of all, he had so all those great songs.
(I recommend A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band)

2) Wes King – A friend of mine gave me Wes King’s Sticks and Stones album for Christmas and it became an instant favorite. Wes was a great songwriter and an amazing guitarist. Plus he was from Georgia which was certainly inspiring. I saw him live with a band a couple of times, but I think my favorite Wes show was just him and an acoustic. It takes a lot to command a crowd in that format, and he did it. Mac and I snuck backstage at AtlantaFest one year and met Wes. He was really cool. His mom was there, and even let us borrow her pen to get an autograph. Dude! Wes King’s mom!
(Check out Sticks and Stones)

3) Jacob’s Trouble – Another great Georgia band. They were the first Christian artist I saw who carried themselves like a true band. I went to a couple dozen of their concerts and learned quite a bit about how to put on a live show. A highlight for us was opening up for Jacob’s Trouble at my high school. As you probably know, we even did a Jacob’s Trouble song on the first Offerings album.
(You can’t go wrong with their self-titled 1992 album)

4) The Waiting – While Jacob’s Trouble paved the way for Georgia bands, The Waiting felt more like peers to us. We did several shows with them during the early years, and there was a mutual influence thing that happened. We also got to tour with them later as opening acts for Newsboys, which was a blast.
(My favorite? Blue Belly Sky)

5) Smalltown Poets – Another member of the local Atlanta scene who did good for themselves. We did several shows with them at The Strand as well as a mini tour in Ohio back in 1995. They were a great band and a lot of fun to hang out with. Perhaps their biggest influence was through encouraging us to get involved with child sponsorship.
(I always loved their self titled debut album)

6) Newsboys – Those guys gave us our first big break, allowing us to open up for them on over 100 shows in the late ’90’s. Out of those 100 shows, we probably watched about 80 of them, taking mental notes the whole time. We learned how to be a band by touring with them. Most of all, we learned how to treat opening acts. They were great mentors and nothing but gracious to us.
(Check out Take Me to Your Leader)

7) Steven Curtis Chapman – Speaking of mentors, Steven Curtis Chapman was a huge one for us early on. We met him backstage at a writer’s night in Nashville, and had an instant rapport with him. We had the same manager for a long time, and Steven acted as a “big brother” to us during a critical time in our career. We’ve had the chance to do several shows with Steven through the years and they’re always great. One of these days we need to tour together!
(A good starting point would be The Great Adventure, although he just released a Cracker Barrel album that is amazing)
8) Michael W. Smith – I saw Michael play several times during our early years. He invited us to be a part of his Exodus project, which was a huge honor. One of my favorite memories from that era was recording guitars with Michael for Agnus Dei. It was just me, Michael, and an engineer. It was an absolute blast. Later we toured together on the Come Together and Worship Tour which was a career highlight for us.
(Start with The First Decade)

9) The Choir – Another band that I listened to quite a bit early on. Their At the Foot of the Cross albums were hugely influential for us when we began recording worship music. We got to collaborate with those guys on the City on a HIll projects which was an amazing experience. In recent years I’ve had the honor of writing songs with both Steve Hindalong and Marc Byrd.
(Check out Speckled Bird or At the Foot of the Cross, Vol. 1)

10) The Prayer Chain – These guys were like the cool kids and you really want them to like you. They came out of the gate in the mid-90’s and were flat out amazing. We got to open up for them in Holland back in ’95. Singer Tim Taber even bought us ice cream (Hey- they really like us!). Tim has gone on to be a concert promoter on the West Coast and a great friend of ours. But he will always be TIM TABER.
(Listen to Shawl. Your welcome.)

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