Kanye West’s Sunday Service Choir Debuts on Top Gospel Albums With ‘Jesus Is Born’


Plus, Zacardi Cortez tops Gospel Airplay.

After just a day-and-a-half of tracking after its Christmas Day release, Kanye West‘s second spiritually-based project, Jesus Is Born, credited to the Sunday Service Choir, enters Billboard‘s Top Gospel Albums chart (dated Jan. 4, 2020) at No. 2.

The set starts with 6,000 equivalent album units earned (3,000 in album sales) in the week ending Dec. 26, according to Nielsen Music.

As West had teased, the album was released Dec. 25, arriving on DSPs at 3 p.m. ET that day.

West’s first faith-based album, Jesus Is King, debuted at No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums, as well as Top Christian Albums, the all-genre Billboard 200, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums on the charts dated Nov. 9 (with 264,000 units). It became the first set ever to lead all five of those rankings.

With 10 of the album’s tracks, West also made history by becoming the first artist to rank at Nos. 1 through 10 on the streaming-, airplay- and sales-based Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs charts that week.

This week, Jesus Is King rules Top Gospel Albums for a ninth week, with 11,000 units (down 8%).

Jesus Is Born differs from Jesus Is King in that West’s Sunday Service Choir, the musical collective that fuels his buzzworthy Sunday Service live events, is the central focus and receives official billing on the new set (after also contributing to its predecessor release). Thus, this isn’t a West album per se, as he doesn’t rap at all on the project, for which he serves as the orchestrator bringing his Sunday Service sermon to life via the album format. (West’s name isn’t mentioned in the artist section for the release, and the set wasn’t released under his typical G.O.O.D. Music imprint.)

Among the 19 songs on Jesus Is Born are reworkings of Shirley Caesar’s 2003 track “Satan, We’re Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down” and Soul II Soul’s 1989 No. 4 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Back to Life.”

Elsewhere on Billboard‘s religious charts, Zacardi Cortez nets his fourth Gospel Airplay No. 1, as “You Don’t Know” ascends 2-1 in its 35th week on the tally.

Cortez ties Marvin Sapp for fifth place among all artists for the most No. 1s since the list launched in 2005. James Fortune & FIYA, Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann lead with six leaders each, while Donald Lawrence boasts five.

“You” is Cortez’s first No. 1 on Gospel Airplay since “Oh How I Loved You” dominated for 12 weeks starting in November 2018. He first reigned as featured, with Shawn McLemore, on Fortune & FIYA’s 19-week No. 1 “I Believe” in 2010-11. “1 On 1” became his second leader, ruling for five weeks in 2014.


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