• Contemporary Christian Music band formed in 1994 from Edmond Oklahoma. Members during most of the their years were Bart Millard (lead vocals), Nathan Cochran (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Michael Scheuchzer (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), Robby Shaffer (drums), Jim Bryson (keyboards) and Barry Graul (guitars, backing vocals). All members contributed to songwriting, with Millard the main lyricist.
  • Millard and Bryson met through a church youth group in Florida – Millard worked with audio and video systems and Bryson played keyboards for the church music group. They traveled to Europe together for a concert tour, and they decided to begin a ministry in music together. Later, they met Scheuchzer and asked him to join them. They moved to Oklahoma, and they formed MercyMe, recording an independent album in 1995. The MercyMe name was inspired by Millard’s grandmother, who would tell Millard “Mercy me, why don’t you get a real job?” In 1997, the trio moved to Nashville, hoping to sign with a record label. They recorded a second album, but they were unable to find a label interested in them, so they moved to Dallas in 1998. They recruited Cochran and Shaffer to join, and they self recorded two more albums that year – up to that point, the Christian albums were alt rock with a grunge music sound.
  • In 1999, still unsigned to a label, they recorded The Worship Project. They abandoned their grunge sound, performing worship songs that were more traditional alt and pop rock. Making copies of the album in their garage, it continued to earn fans, and within a year, they had sold 60,000 copies. One more album was released in 2000, and soon after, they were signed to a recording contract.
  • Their debut studio album with the label was Almost There, released in 2001. A single from the album, I Can Only Image, was a hit, topping the Christian Songs chart and crossing over to peak at #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The song won Song of the Year at the 2002 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards. This increased interest in the album, which ultimately was certified 3x platinum, peaking at #37 on the Billboard 200 chart and #1 on the Christian Albums chart.
  • I Can Only Imagine had a legacy that continues even today. By 2018, it was the best selling Christian song of all time, and it continued to be one of the best selling Christian singles for many years after its release – in 2020, it was #7 on Billboard’s Year-End Christian Digital Songs list for the year, 20 years after its initial release. In 2018, a film with the same title was released. The film, based on the life story of Bart Millard and the formation of MercyMe, was a success, grossing $86 million worldwide – the sixth highest-grossing Christian film ever.
  • MercyMe’s follow-up album, 2002’s Spoken For, reached #2 on the Christian Albums chart, and it included their second #1 Christian Songs single, Word of God Speak. The song remained #1 on the chart for 23 weeks, winning Song of the Year at the 2004 GMA Dove Awards. In 2010, Billboard named the song the #1 Christian song of the 00s decade.
  • Guitarist Graul joined the group in 2004, and the band released three more studio albums from 2004 to 2007. Each topped the Christian Albums chart. Five songs from these albums peaked at #1 on the Christian Songs chart, and a sixth song from a Christmas album also reached #1.
  • In 2010, MercyMe released The Generous Mr. Lovewell album. In addition to becoming their fifth #1 album on the Christian Albums chart, it was their highest charting album on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #3. Three more singles reached #1 on the Christian Songs chart – All of Creation, Beautiful and Move. It was the final album that Bryson contributed to – MercyMe became a quintet with his departure, as Bryson wished to spend more time with family.
  • Four more albums were released between 2012 and 2017. Each topped the Christian album chart, and each was top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. They had another seven #1 Christian Song hits with these albums. Their first album of the 20s decade will be released at the end of April.
  • MercyMe ranks among the most successful Contemporary Christian artists of all time – only Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith have had more #1 albums, and the group’s 19 singles to reach #1 on one of the Christian charts is more than any other artist. Here’s the video to their crossover hit, I Can Only Imagine – the song was written by Millard after the death of his father, who had been abusive when Millard was a boy, but made amends with his son after he was diagnosed with cancer. Millard’s grandmother said that she could only imagine what his father was seeing in heaven, and Millard took comfort in the thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *