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Members include Jody Davis, guitar; Jeff Frankenstein, keyboards; Peter Furler , drums, lead vocals; John James, (left group, 1997), lead vocals; Phil Joel, bass. Addresses: Record company--Virgin Records America, 338 N. Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210 Phone: (310)-278-1181.
The early days of The Newsboys were filled with rough and crtical barbs. Some critics felt the group relied too much on lyrical religious cliches. Undaunted by such attacks, they forged ahead in what they believed to be a mission. Each musician was a seasoned professional who could work in the secular rock market had they wanted to. Yet they each wanted to combine their professional talents with their personal spiritual beliefs and decided to start a Christian rock band. Well known for their wild, high-energy live-show performances and high-tech production numbers, The Newsboys are an example of a unique musical phenomenon. They are a Christian rock group that has managed to break into into the cross-over market of secular pop music, following such talents as Amy Grant, Audio Adrenaline, Matthew Sweet and others., The group itself formed in the late 1980s with an original lineup of lead vocalist John James, guitarists Roscoe Meeks and Phillip Urry, and drummer Peter Furler. They are considered to be one of the most popularly known Christian rock bands of the 1990s
Star Song/Virgin Records also believed in their potential and gave them a recording contract. The Newsboy's debut album Hell Is for Wimps was released in 1990 to a mild response. They released Turn in 1991 to much of the same. Undauanted, they continued with Not Ashamed, Boys Will Be Boyz, and Read All About It in 1992. They received a Grammy nomination for Rock Album of the Year in 1993. However, their first big success came with 1994's Going Public. It hit the charts like a bullet and became their first gold record. The next public accolade came from the Christian music sector when they received a Dove Nomination for Best Short Form Video in 1994 for "I Cannot Get You Out of My System." Their public expanded exponentially and since they were now approaching the crossover horizon, they wanted to maximize the impact of their deeply held spiritual beliefs. To do this in the most effective way possible, they teamed up with a Dallas-based evangelical organization called Teen Mania.Teen Mania regularly schedules weekend events and The Newsboys chose to use this venue and reach out to Christian teenagers. The following years reaped even sweeter harvests. They released Take Me To Your Leader in 1996. It went gold, making Take Me to Your Leader their second gold record in as many years.
On November 1, 1997, The Newsboys made contemporary Christian Music History. Their Houston Astrodome concert held over 33,000 people. Also, over 900,000 fans showed up to attend the Take Me To Your Leader Tour. The latter tour had the distinction of being named both Christian Contemporary Music's Release Magazine's favorite live concert of 1997.
It was at this time that vocalist John James decided to quit. According to Furler and Joel, he left the group in pursuit
"It&'s like a cheeky way of saying both `let the chips fall where they may'," Furler told the Newsboys Website, "and at the same time, for the fans and the youth group leaders and the like, showing them that on this record, we've gone through a lot of self-examination. We've been thinking about `why did Jesus die on the cross? And more important, `why do we believe what we believe? The phrase `Step Up To The Microphone' obviously means `make your statement." But to me, it also means `what are you going to say when you get there?"
After putting on the finishing touches, their latest album, Step Up To The Microphone was released in 1998. A week before it hit the streets, the band promoted the event by headlining the annual Creation Fest held in Mount Union, Pennsylvania. Audience reception was positive. The fans seemed to love Furler as the lead singer. Though the differences in style were apparent, it was a positive one. Because of the radical personnel changes, the Newsboys knew they had a lot to prove to their long-time fans. It was a given that the audience would make the inevitable comparisons between lead singers. Some would probably even judge the overall production tone of their album, the signature of a producer. Another change for the group was the collaborational effort of their new album, the whole band took part in writing all of the songs together. "We all stepped up and took on a whole lot more," said Joel to Price. "I can't say it was a shock that James moved on, so it didn't rock the boat immensely. Peter has a great voice. He's had to take on being a front man and he's doing a great job." "There were a lot of challenges going into this record." Furler added, "But I think that made us more creative. I'm really proud of the lyrics. It's really a very personal record."
Having faith in their potential for reaching an even wider secular cross-over audience, Virgin Records launched a massive promotional campaign to back Step Up To The Microphone. They also worked through EMI Christian Music Group Distribution to release the album into mainstream outlets. Special promotional events were launched in over twenty key market areas and, for the first time in their decade long career, the crossover became a great success. Along with having their songs played on the traditional alternate Christian radio stations, they also started appearing on the playlist of major Top 40 radio stations across the country. Their 120 city Step Up To The Microphone Fall Tour surpassed initial expectations. Everyone was pleased with the results. The tour has even surpassed the success of Amy Grant's Age to Age Tour. It looks like the Newsboys'mainstream crossover is here to stay.
by Timothy Kevin Perry
The Newsboys's Career
Group formed in late 1980s; released debut album Hell Is For Wimps, Star Song, 1990; released Not Ashamed, Boys Will Be Boyz, and Read All About It, 1992; Going Public , 1994; Take Me To Your Leader, Chordant, 1996; Step Up To The Microphone, 1998.
The Newsboys's Awards
Gold record for album Going Public, 1994; Gold record for album Take Me To Your Leader, 1996.
- Selected discography
- Hell Is For Wimps , Star Song, 1990.
- Boys Will Be Boyz , Star Song, 1992.
- Going Public , Star Song, 1994.
- Take Me To Your Leader Chordant, 1996.
- Step Up To The Microphone , Star Song/Virgin Records, 1998.
- Billboard Magazine , June 6, 1998, pg. 14.
- All Music Guide Web Site, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/x.exe
- The Official Newsboys Web Site, http://www. newsboys.com
The Newsboys Lyrics
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