We’re already a third of the way through 2005, and we’ve heard a number of great albums. But what else can we expect in Christian music for the remainder of the year? What are the biggest releases on the horizon?

The annual GMA Week in Nashville, which I recently attended, is always a great time to learn about what’s ahead. Below is a list of twenty of the year’s most anticipated projects, judging by previous sales, industry buzz, fan expectations, and my own perspectives. This certainly isn’t a complete list—you can visit our Upcoming Releases page for a more comprehensive list as street dates become confirmed. Also, note that all release dates are subject to change.

20. Mars ILL, Pro Pain

This July release was pushed back from 2004, but word of mouth says it’s one of the year’s strongest hip-hop recordings.

19. Audio Adrenaline, Until My Heart Caves In

Look for the next disc from this Christian rock mainstay in August.

18. Bart Millard, Hymned

Yes, MercyMe’s lead singer is releasing a solo project in August. No, you’re not being Punk’d, but you will be Hymned.

17. Todd Agnew, Reflections of Something

Reflections of what? We’ll have to wait until August to find out, with this rising star’s sophomore effort.

16. MxPx, Panic

The crossover punk rock band is back with a new album in July.

15. Chris Rice, Amusing

Since he’s left Rocketown Records, it’ll be interesting to see where this acclaimed singer/songwriter goes with the more general market eb + flo label this October.

14. Joy Williams, Genesis

She’s steadily grown in popularity the last four years, but Joy reinvents her pop/rock sound yet again with this May’s appropriately titled CD.

13. Shaun Groves, White Flag

Inspired by The Beatitudes, and perhaps The Beatles, listeners should be pleasantly surprised by the intelligent songwriting and rocking sound of this CD, due in July.

12. David Crowder Band, untitled

Following the success of 2003’s Illuminate, the increasingly popular modern worship band continues to shine their light with this September release.

11. MuteMath, untitled

Currently the most buzzworthy band in Christian music, based on the strong response to their Reset EP. We’ll finally hear more later in 2005.

10. newsboys, untitled

Now that newsboys have left Sparrow/EMI to join their own Inpop label, what can we expect from their next release? Another worship album or the fun and witty rock that made them popular in the first place? The answer is both with a two-disc set on the way this October.

9. Amy Grant, Rock of Ages

Simple Things wasn’t exactly the hit record we’ve come to expect from Grant, but 2005 is already shaping up be a potentially big year for the CCM innovator. Things kick off with the May release of her 20th recording, Rock of Ages, her second and more rootsy sounding hymns project.

8. Yolanda Adams, Day by Day

Why must we wait so long for the most popular gospel artists to release new material? Adams was last heard in 2001 with her best-selling album Believe. The wait ends this fall with her next Warner release, although her first single, “Be Blessed,” is already making a dent at radio.

7. P.O.D., untitled

Though it certainly didn’t do poorly, 2003’s relatively softer and more melodic Payable on Death didn’t quite live up to this Southtown hardcore band’s previous successes. So look for “a more mature, heavy” P.O.D. to revisit their harder hitting, rap-flavored roots with this late 2005 release, and hope that they can “Rock This Party” once again.

6. Rebecca St. James, untitled

Though she’s remained highly visible as today’s most popular female Christian artist, it will have been five years since her last original studio album when Rebecca’s next project releases in October. Word is we can expect a darker rock sound reminiscent of her God album and Evanescence.

5. Mary Mary, Mary Mary

The Campbell sisters made waves in 2000 with their breakthrough single “Shackles” from their debut, Thankful. So where have they been since 2002’s Incredible? In a word, motherhood, but the R&B gospel duo is set to return in July with their self-titled project, again featuring the talents of Erica’s superstar husband/producer Warryn Campbell.

4. Casting Crowns, untitled

The second release from this popular Atlanta band will feature more of frontman Mark Hall’s plainspoken songwriting and Mark Miller’s production. That’s probably a good thing since the 2003 self-titled debut went platinum and earned Casting Crowns seven Doves at the 2005 Gospel Music Awards. They’ll be riding the wave of success further this August.

3. Nichole Nordeman, Brave

Speaking of seven Dove Awards, the public last saw Nordeman in early 2003 sweeping the GMAs with her best-selling 2002 release, Woven & Spun. Motherhood brings new elements and insight to her always poignant songwriting, as evidenced in her upcoming May release, which promises more of the thoughtful craft for which she’s rightfully earned acclaim.

2. Kirk Franklin, untitled

Anticipated is an understatement for this contemporary gospel heavyweight and impresario. Franklin’s next project, slated for a late summer release, is his first album since 2001’s Rebirth and his first studio project since 1998’s Nu Nation Project. Keep watching his new official site, www.KirkFranklin.us, for more details.

1. Switchfoot, untitled

Little did anyone expect Switchfoot to become one of the hottest crossover bands in Christian music history when they first debuted in 1997. But will their next album live up to the runaway success of 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown? And will the songs still reflect their faith? Stay tuned; their official website says the new album is “rumored” to be ready for a July release.

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