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Newsboys ready for Easterfest

Newsboys are one of the biggest acts in Christian music in the United States.
Newsboys are one of the biggest acts in Christian music in the United States.

THEY’VE been dubbed Newsboys 2.0 and with a combination of two of the biggest bands in Christian music, they’re already creating their own ‘Beatlemania’ in the US.

This Easter weekend, Newsboys will headline the nation’s largest Christian music festival Easterfest in Toowoomba as well as shows in Melbourne and Sydney.

The boys are huge in the United States where they have sold more than six million albums, had 21 number one hits in the Christian music and three Grammy nominations.

But for the first time, Newsboys will perform Down Under with a new lead singer – Michael Tait – a singer from Grammy-winning supergroup dc Talk, ironically Newsboys’ biggest competition in their early days.

The new line-up has amassed a new legion of fans – including more than 53,000 Facebook friends, driven by drummer Duncan Phillips’ constant postings.

An institution in the US, Newsboys has become renown for stage shows which featured everything from its members landing on stage on flying saucers to Phillips playing while spinning upside down strapped into a drum riser.

Newsboys’ founder Peter Furler stepped down in March last year after 22 years on the road, saying he wanted to take a break from the ruthless touring schedule.

The band called in Tait, then doing his own solo work, and asked him to head the line-up.

Dc Talk helped Newsboys get their start in the huge US Christian market after the Aussie act first arrived from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 1987.

“When the Newsboys came to the States, we took them on two different dc Talk tours,’’ Tait explained.

“Newsboys opened for us. So it’s quite funny thinking about it now. If you’d told me back then that I would be the new lead singer of Newsboys I would probably have argued. But now it’s obviously changed.’’

Phillips, who has been with the band for 18 years, said Tait was a natural choice not only because of his talent – but because he had been a long-time friend.

“We knew he was a world class singer but with the band being a marriage of sorts, with us always on the road together, we had to have someone who could get along with the guys,’’ he said.

The Tait takeover of the lead role has created one of the biggest controversies in Christian music with some fans saying it’s just not Newsboys any more.

“Obviously you are going to get some people saying Newsboys, as we know it, is over,’’ Phillips said.

“They are exactly right...this is not the old Newsboys any more... it is something new.’’

Phillips said the energy created by the Tait change had taken the band to a whole new level.

“We are proud of what the Newsboys has achieved. There’s been over 20 number 1 hits.’’

“But when you combine two of the biggest acts in Christian music one plus one has equalled five,’’ he said of the appeal.

“Some of the shows we have done, it’s been like Beatlemania,’’ he said as fans of Newsboys and DC Talk converged.

Tait’s incredible vocal talent had added a new dimension to the shows. “The guy could sing a phone book and people would buy it.’’

As a ‘closet DC Talk fan’, Phillips said it had given him a ‘real thrill’ to play some of the band’s biggest hits as part of the new show which features the best of the old and the new of both bands.

Phillips said he hoped Aussie fans would embrace the Newsboys’ new lead singer as much as US fans had.

“I’m incredibly excited about getting back to Easterfest and Australia. We love the people, we love the country and we love the food.’’

For Phillips, it will be a special time to catch up with his family, including his dad Dale who will have his 80th birthday celebrations while his famous son is out.

“It’s going to be really special for me to share some time with dad to celebrate his 80th birthday.’’

Newsboys headline Easterfest in Toowoomba with Australian Idol Stan Walker on Saturday, April 3 before heading to Melbourne and Sydney on April 5 and 6. Full details at www.easterfest.com.au

Newsboys will release its new album, Born Again, on July 13. For more information go to www.newsboys.com or check them out on Facebook.



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