After a runner-up finish on the reality show Rising Star, Austin French re-emerged in 2017 with an exuberant style of contemporary Christian pop tinged with soul. He reached the Top Ten of the Billboard Christian Songs chart with his debut single, "Freedom Hymn."
French grew up in Cordele, Georgia and decided he wanted to be a contemporary Christian musician as an eighth grader after attending a Christian music camp. He formed bands soon after and began touring while in high school. During his senior year in 2012, he went through several rounds of auditioning for the second season of NBC's The Voice but was cut during the final round of blind auditions without making it on air. At 18, he began working as worship leader, first in Tifton, Georgia, then in Delray Beach, Florida.
In 2014, French earned a spot on the first and what turned out to be final season of the ABC singing competition Rising Star. Hosted by Josh Groban, the show's celebrity panelists included Kesha, Ludacris, and Brad Paisley. French made the series finale and ultimately finished in second place. He spent the next couple of years taking writing sessions in Nashville and continuing his work in the church.
In 2017, he signed with Fair Trade Services and released his first single, "Freedom Hymn," that December. His full-length debut, Wide Open, followed in September 2018. It included "Freedom Hymn" and the single "Born Again," both of which landed on Billboard's Christian Songs and Christian Airplay charts. The album reached the Christian Top 40 and crossed over to the Heatseekers chart, where it peaked at number 16. ~ Marcy Donelson