Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow

CONTEMPORA­RY CHRISTIAN AND Newsboys United features past, present lead singers

- BY ALAN SCULLEY CORRESPOND­ENT

Newsboys keyboardis­t/ bassist Jeff Frankenste­in knew there were pitfalls to the idea of the group reuniting with its original singer, Peter Furler, when the idea surfaced in 2017.

Furler left the group in 2009 after leading the Newsboys to the top of the Christian music scene. Over that span, the group from Queensland, Australia, won five Dove Awards and released nine straight albums that all went Top 5 on the Christian music chart (with four hitting No. 1).

Furler was replaced by another notable figure in Christian music, former DC Talk singer Michael Tait.

The “new” Newsboys spent the next several years trying to prove that they could be a successful band without Furler, who had been the group’s songwriter. Their efforts paid off with three straight albums that topped Billboard magazine’s Christian Albums chart: “Born Again” (2010), “God’s Not

Dead” (2011) and “Restart” (2013). “Love Riot” (2016) reached No. 2 on the Christian chart and topped Billboard’s Alternativ­e Albums and Top Rock Albums charts.

The song “God’s Not

Dead” became the group’s first platinum-certified single and inspired three Christian films, “God’s Not Dead,” “God’s Not Dead 2” and “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.”

So when the idea started gaining traction in 2017 for reuniting with Furler, as well as longtime bassist Phil Joel (who left the band in 2006), to create what is being billed as Newsboys United, several issues had to be considered.

Did the current Newsboys want to create a situation where they were competing with the original group? Would there be confusion over what group was the “real” Newsboys? Would they want to deal with questions about whether Furler would replace Tait or if a group that included both Furler and Tait could be a long-term situation?

In the end, one factor made bringing together two eras of the Newsboys make sense.

“I think as an artist, you have to keep the fan first in mind. And that’s the way

I’ve approached it the whole time,” Frankenste­in said. “If I was a fan and I saw this whole concept coming together before my eyes, how thrilled would I be? How excited would I be? We were kind of between records and it just kind of made sense.”

What’s more, Frankenste­in said the group realized this might be the last best chance to try a reunion with Furler and Joel.

“So it was like ‘You know what, guys, we’re not getting any younger. Let’s do this while people still care.’ And it turned out it was the right thing. And I’m thankful, too, because it’s been a boost for my relationsh­ip with Phil and Peter. Both of those guys I’ve spent 25 years of my life with, some of the best years of my life with, almost like family. So even if all the music goes away and we don’t do this after this, or whatever happens after that, I’m just thankful that those relationsh­ips are back in my life and they’re strong again.”

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