The end of November not only marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, it's also the unofficial end of the year for music releases (no coincidence there!). That means it's also time for us to release our Top 12 picks for the best Christian albums of 2001.

With so many incredible music releases to choose from this year, we asked a couple of editors from our sister publications to contribute to our selection process. Then, using sophisticated methodology ("Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish … "), we created an official list that reflects the overlap between our picks. The result is a best-of list we feel truly represents the cream of the crop. Also, click on any of the editors' names to view each of our individual lists, which feature a few more albums that didn't make the final cut. As always, you can click on any album image in the lists to listen to sound clips and buy the album at

Our music panel included the following contributors:

  • Andy Argyrakis, freelance music critic for the music channel.
  • Russ Breimeier, music critic and co-director for the music channel.
  • Camerin Courtney, associate editor for Today's Christian Woman magazine, as well as the singles and music channels.
  • Michael Herman, co-director for the music channel.
  • Mark Moring, managing editor for Campus Life magazine.

And now, without further ado, here are our winners:

Katy Hudson

Katy Hudson
Red Hill

Camerin: " … writes her own songs … vulnerably lays her fears, longings, weaknesses, and growing pains before listeners … "
Russ: " … rife with the musical maturity and intelligence of a twentysomething. She's just 17 years old!"

Stereotype Be

Kevin Max

Camerin: "Kevin Max's voice has long been one of my favorites … with his cool moody, U2/Sting-ish sound … "
Mike: " … nuanced performance and production … expect something different, and Stereotype Be will take you a step further than that."

Big Surprise

The Elms

Russ: " … perfectly balance beautiful melodies and simple rock and roll, with a bit of creative imagination thrown in."
Mike: "Big Surprise is stimulating and fun, giving a double dose of ear-candy in both the music and the lyrics. "
Andy: " … The Elms have matured tenfold, developing a knack for clever songwriting and a British-inspired rock backbeat. "

The Way I Am

Jennifer Knapp

Camerin: "That this singer/songwriter/guitar player creates songs that are simultaneously mind stretching and entertaining proves her genius."
Mark: " … a good mix of rock and folk … but it's Knapp's knack with a pen that makes her music soar. "

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Come Together

Third Day

Mark: "The best rock band in Christian music keeps getting better."
Camerin:"Third Day is a great rock band—period. "
Mike: "There's enough variety on Come Together to not only bring [fans], but also to draw in a new group of listeners who haven't discovered Third Day yet."

In the Company of Angels

Caedmon's Call

Russ: "Caedmon's Call rightly understands that we can express worship to the Lord with the poetic language of the old hymns and today's contemporary music … and still fall short in fully articulating God's majesty and glory."
Mike: "The group has a knack of not only producing great sounding tunes, but they consistently speak the truth of God's Word clearly with incredible artistic integrity."
Mark: " … it's fitting that Caedmon's Call would do a worship album, and this one's better than most."
Camerin: "During a year full of worship releases, Caedmon's Call's latest offering rises to the top."

Big Blue Sky

Bebo Norman
Watershed / Essential

Mike: "Bebo's textured voice, his perspectives on life through his songwriting, his unique guitar playing … , and his personable presence make me want to listen to his music over and over again."
Camerin:" … the lyrics engage the mind and emotions … while the acoustic-based pop doesn't beat you over the head musically."
Andy: "Norman shows incredible maturity both musically and lyrically on Big Blue Sky … "

Talk About It

Nicole C. Mullen

Camerin: "[Talk About It] captures all that's great about divas — attitude, soaring ballads, hip dance songs, and vibe — for all the right reasons … "
Andy: "Mullen has improved from her debut effort, developing a glossier sound with hearty lyrics that appeal to listeners from any musical or racial background."
Mark: "[Nicole] has delivered and then some. Stunning vocals and an eclectic mix of pop, R&B, jazz, hip-hop, gospel and more will make this a regular in my player for years."
Mike: "That Nicole managed to outdo her debut album is truly an achievement."



Andy: "This is a rock solid debut rooted in eclecticism and stellar musicianship, guaranteed to be the beginning of an ongoing career for downhere."
Russ: "I found more and more to praise about this album with every listen, forcing it near the top of my list … "
Camerin: "All it took was one listen to their debut CD to decide they'd wind up on my list of favorites."
Mike: "The quality of the musicianship and lyrical content for such a young group is astonishing. I can't wait to hear how far these guys will go with future albums."

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Andy: "[P.O.D. is] never ashamed to share their faith, set to the soundtrack of skillfully blended hardcore, reggae, and rap elements."
Mark: "The tunes are hard and heavy and excellent, but it's P.O.D.'s ability to impact secular culture in a huge way that makes this CD, and this band, extra special."
Russ: "Christian artists who truly want to influence the world around them should study what this band is accomplishing and take notes."
Mike: "They may look rough in appearance, but this album has a message worthy of a pastor's sermon, set to music that kids are rapidly embracing."


Sara Groves

It's worth mentioning that this album was independently released in 1999. However, it was only widely distributed beginning March 2001. We also suspect that most critics did not fairly consider Conversations for their 1999 best-of lists because it was an independent release at the time.

Mark: "I first heard Conversations as an indie release 18 months ago, and was blown away by Groves' sensitive, insightful songwriting"
Russ: "Sara Groves's brilliant songwriting seems as vital and important as Rich Mullins and Michael Card."
Mike: "The words and phrases from song to song will continue to surprise and resonate with the listener."
Camerin: "Amidst her questions are the kind of challenges, insights, and wisdom I need to hear and offer more regularly in my own conversations."


Steven Curtis Chapman

Russ: "Steven Curtis Chapman truly has gotten better with each successive release, and this is a near-perfect pop/rock album."
Andy: " … this album once again shows the inspirational rocker reinventing his sound just a bit."
Mike: "Declaration was partly born out of the intense struggles Steven experienced during the time of writing and recording this project. That spirit of struggle without compromise bursts out of this album, causing me to have no choice but to rank this project high on my list."
Mark: "Add the most confessional lyrics of his career … and you've got another award winner."

Honorable Mention

6.1 — Out of the Grey
Elementary — Cindy Morgan
Invitation to Eavesdrop — Shaun Groves
Karaoke Superstars — Superchic[k]
The Last Street Preacha — T-Bone
Leave Here a Stranger — Starflyer 59
The Moon Is Down — Further Seems Forever
The Noise We Make — Chris Tomlin
Press On — Selah
Travelers — Carolyn Arends