A version of this story appeared on Input Fort Wayne. See the original story here.
With the rise of social media, users of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to share content and connect with fans around the world.
Two students at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., second-year student Abby Schank and first-year student Xander Sallows, have garnered national followings for their Christian-themed work on the social media platform TikTok.
Here’s how they are making a name for themselves as student artists.
Meet Abby Schank
When Abby joined TikTok two years ago, she didn’t expect anything to come out of it. Two months later, however, two of her videos had more than 1 million views, and before she knew it, she had 15,000 followers.
“From then on, God started opening doors,” Abby says.
An English major, she applies the power of storytelling to her videos to humorously retell Bible stories. She says that she seeks to stay true to the morals of the stories, but makes them entertaining to help social media users learn about the Bible.
“Growing up, I was always a little bored in church because it just seemed very serious, very by the book,” Abby says. “I thought I could make learning about the Bible a lot of fun.”
Recently, she hit 200,000 followers on TikTok and 40,000 on Instagram, and she has done collaborations with stars like John Luke Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.” Since the start of her TikTok career, Abby feels that she has grown in both her faith and confidence. When she was younger, she struggled with social anxiety and thought that she would never be able to escape it. Now, she’s created a career as a virtual “performer,” and she’s getting ready to publish a new book series.
She attributes this success to her Christian faith and following.
“God has really taken something that I thought would cripple me and made it my strength,” she says.
Meet Xander Sallows
Xander has been using Spotify to release his own music since September 2020. While his music is not limited to the Christian genre, he sees it as an expression of his faith and has found success in both Christian and non-Christian music circles.
“I was inspired by other artists and wanted to be able to impact people in the same way that they’ve impacted me,” Xander says.
He oversees every step of the process himself, including producing, writing, singing, mixing, and recording his music. According to him, it takes between 100 and 200 hours to produce just one song. He started writing music his freshman year of high school, and he produced and recorded for 3.5 years before releasing music. Now, he is hired by other artists to help produce their songs.
As a creative, he says that he sometimes struggles to allow himself to be creative amidst the pressure of perfectionism.
“I question, would anyone want to listen to this?” Xander says. “When I started, I had about 100 people listening every month, and now, I’ve had over 250,000 people listen. I never expected that.”
In April, one of his songs hit the Christian charts for the first time.
“Right next to me were artists like Toby Mac and We are Messengers, and it didn’t really make sense,” Xander says. “I knew it had to be the Lord at that point.”
Through his work on Spotify, Xander was able to achieve his dream of making a song with the artist who inspired him to make music, Matthew Parker, who was Xander’s most listened to artist on Spotify for five years in a row.
Matthew drove from South Carolina to Xander’s home in Michigan so the pair could co-write the song “Skydiving,” which is Xander’s most popular song on Spotify. Xander says that was one of the most impactful experiences of his music career.
Although he has always liked music, he never imagined he could turn it into a career. Now that he has found success on Spotify, he is pursuing a degree in music production at Grace.
Most recently, Sallows released one song on Thanksgiving and three more as well as an EP on December 3. He will have four more out on December 31. His songs can be streamed on most music platforms.