Christy Nockels has long had a huge appreciation for music and for ministry and its role in the kingdom of God. As a worship leader for over 25 years, she’s seen first hand how music can usher people into the presence of God in a powerful way. Whether she’s singing a soft, lullaby or belting out a corporate anthem, Christy’s heart has always been to simply lead people to connect and communicate with the living God.
The daughter of a pastor, born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Christy remembers simple beginnings that laid a sure foundation for her, for the rest of her life. At the age of seven, she took the stage of her country church and this began a life-long love of worshiping God and telling stories through song. She attributes this to her parents, saying, “they were always most concerned about developing my heart, not just my voice.” By the time she was seventeen, Christy was leading worship corporately on a regular basis, mostly thanks to a worship leader at her church, who believed in her and helped to raise her up.
In 1993 – at the Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado, – she met her husband, Nathan, and the two went on to record an independent record with fellow worship leader and friend, Charlie Hall, under the name Sons & Daughters. Their first album entitled, Holy Roar, was originally a collection of songs meant for the church plant they were a part of in Oklahoma City. The trio had a ground-breaking sound for their time, with hearts burning to see renewal happen in the Church. It’s no surprise that the record seeped out and into the hands of Louie Giglio, founder of Passion Conferences. In 1996, he wrote to Christy, Nathan and Charlie saying, “the songs you are singing are the prayers we are praying” and Giglio invited them to participate in the first ever Passion Conference in Austin, Texas that next year.
Christy and Nathan eventually moved to Houston, Texas to lead at a weekly gathering of over 3,000 young people called “Metro Bible Study”, held at Houston’s First Baptist Church. Rocketown Records, a small label formed by longtime Christian artist, Michael W. Smith, had interest in one of their artists singing at the bible study. The label president, Don Donahue, would come through and hear Christy and Nathan lead worship, leading to an invitation to join their roster. The two would form the duo, Watermark and Christy’s voice began gaining a national platform. Christy and Nathan picked up and moved to Franklin, TN and over the next ten years recorded five acclaimed albums, including seven number one radio singles, before deciding to lay down their Watermark journey, for the sake of their family.
In 2008, the Nockels family – now a family of five – moved to Atlanta, GA to become a founding family of Passion City Church, where they served on the worship team with friends Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Kristian Stanfill. Christy eventually signed with sixstepsrecords, releasing her acclaimed solo debut album, Life Light Up, and later released two more solo albums, Into the Glorious as well as her live, worship album Let it Be Jesus. Christy spent seven years traveling worldwide with Passion Conferences and Chris Tomlin before she and her family felt called to return to Tennessee, the place that’s always felt most like home.
Christy is now co-owner of Keeper’s Branch Records, with her husband Nathan. Christy released three albums in just three years after creating their independent label. Her Christmas album, The Thrill of Hope released in 2016, launched a Christmas tour called A Night of Hope: A Family Christmas that the Nockels hope will remain a tradition each year. In 2017, Nockels released a breathtaking album of lullabies, meant for all ages, called Be Held; Lullabies for the Beloved and in 2018, an instrumental version of the album was also released. Be Held; Lullabies for the Beloved was nominated for a Dove Award and is Christy’s personal favorite, to date, saying “this album will remain one of the greatest honor’s of my life to be a part of. We have heard stories of babies being born to these songs and elderly parents going home to Jesus to these songs. It turns out, we never outgrow the need to be sung over about the Father’s love for us.”
Christy’s latest endeavor is her podcast called The Glorious in the Mundane, which has exceeded her expectations since it’s beginning in 2016. It has grown in listeners but also in Christy’s heart as a place where she’s learning to use her voice beyond just singing. Touring with author friends, such as Jennie Allen, Rebekah Lyons and Ann Voskamp, Christy has also developed a love for writing and speaking and continues to be stretched beyond her musical borders.
Christy still lives in Franklin, TN with her husband Nathan and their three children, Noah (18), Elliana (16) and Annie Rose (11). They affectionally call their homestead, “Keeper’s Branch”, a play on their street name but also a promise from Psalm 121. Their hope is that their home will be a sanctuary and a place of rest and creativity for their family, as well as all who enter in.