Christian bands reach great heights

By | January 14, 2007 at 1:09 PM

During the past couple of years, some of the Christian music community’s best-loved groups have chosen to call it quits, including Audio Adrenaline, Petra,
4HIM, Watermark and Out of Eden.

On the other hand, 2006 saw some veteran acts deliver some of the best music of their careers, including Phillips, Craig &
Dean with “Top of My Lungs” and the Newsboys with “Go.”

“I enjoy traveling and our fans. I appreciate them,”
Newsboys frontman Peter Furler says. “Being around 20 years, we’ve got fans that were in their teens and now they have their own teenagers . . . Just being around this long is a good thing. Nothing about it really feels old.”

The band will kick off its 40-plus-date Go tour February
16, with Kutless and Stellar Kart as opening acts. Indeed, its creative energy shows no signs of waning, and it has undertaken a heavy international touring schedule that has included dates in Morocco and Israel.

Such experiences inform “Go,” the Newsboys’ 14th album and its first pop record in four years, following two successful worship albums, “He Reigns” and “Adoration.” After years on EMI
Christian Music’s Sparrow label, “Go” is the band’s first release on Inpop, the EMI-distributed indie label founded by
Furler and manager Wes Campbell. The roster also includes Mat Kearney, Tree 63, Shane & Shane, Jimmy Needham and Superchick.

“It’s funny because in years past there were times I got frustrated with the record company, but when I was making this record and had the same frustrations, I was thinking, ‘Hey, I own the label,’ so it didn’t make any difference,” Furler says with a laugh.

During the past year, Furler acknowledges discussions with other companies looking to purchase Inpop, but says there are no serious suitors at this time. Furler and Campbell are the principal owners. Among those who have invested in Inpop are pro football players Tony Biscelli, formerly of the
Jacksonville Jaguars, and Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell.

Another great ’06 album was the Phillips, Craig & Dean disc
“Top of My Lungs.” It features the signature harmonies and kind of potent songs that have defined Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean’s 16-year career as a trio. Offspring Garland
Phillips and Devin and Danielle Dean even sing the classic hymn
“Tis So Sweet.”

Each member continues to serve as pastors in their respective churches. Phillips says that at the start of the group’s career, some people were skeptical about the members’ ability to balance careers as pastors and musicians. Yet they still find time for new hobbies as well. Dean has taken up running and is training for a marathon. “They’re clocking him with a sundial,” Phillips quips. 

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