Our annual picks for Best New Artists are a high point of the year because it's ultimately about hope and potential for the Christian music genre. With fresh sounds and faith perspectives, it offers a glimpse of good things to come in the years ahead. Presented in the order in which they released over 2004, these are the artists that we can't wait to hear more from and watch how their careers shape up.

Michael Gungor

Bigger Than My Imagination (Vertical/Integrity)

A young rising talent out of Michigan, Michael Gungor didn't break big in 2004, but he's bound to make a name in time with his artful and creative approach to praise. His own "Friend of God," co-written with Israel Houghton, is one of the year's most added contemporary worship songs. As for talent, Gungor has deservedly drawn comparisons to Phil Keaggy and John Mayer with his skillful jazz-inflected guitar licks and smoky voice; his infectious riff on "Meet with Me" readily evokes Mayer's own "Neon." This is a worship leader with a keen sense of pop culture trends, making good music while putting his own stamp on it. Those who enjoy the sixsteps lead worshippers—Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, David Crowder Band—will also find a lot appreciate in Gungor and his music.
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Sarah Kelly

Take Me Away (Gotee)

Sarah Kelly

burst onto the Christian music scene in early 2004 with a lot of buzz surrounding her national debut. And the primary source of that buzz is this Rockford, Illinois native's powerful rock chick voice—easily one of the best to hit Christian music in recent years. Passionate, dark, and warm with just a little bit of scruff, Kelly's singing has often been compared to Janis Joplin's throaty wails, though it's probably ...

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