When Peter Furler, lead singer and architect of the Newsboys, revealed in 2009 that he was leaving the band, the status of the Christian-pop group was in limbo.
"We didn't know what was going to happen," drummer Duncan Phillips said in a recent interview. "I had been in the band since 1993 and Peter was always there. Who knew what the future would hold? I didn't have a crystal ball."
But the Newsboys lured vocalist Michael Tait of DC Talk fame into their fold and have never looked back.
"Michael was great right from the beginning," Phillips said. "He fit right in and was great instantly onstage."
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The band will perform Sunday night at Intrust Bank Arena as part of the lineup for Winter Jam, which also will feature the NewSong, David Crowder Band, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, RED and KJ-52.
Many bands find vocalists who are fine under the lights belting out familiar hits. It's another story, however, to find one who can also help create music that meets the standards the band achieved at its height.
That's just what Tait brought to the table when the Newsboys made their aptly titled comeback disc, "Born Again," released last July. The disc ranks with their best albums, with strong songwriting and plenty of melody and hooks. And Tait is still a monster of a singer.
"Michael is phenomenal," Phillips said. "We knew he was the guy who could do the job. There wasn't a lot of guesswork involved. But it's not just that he's a great singer. He's a great friend. We've known him since we stepped off the boat from Australia in America. We always admired the guys in DC Talk, especially Michael."
The Newsboys, which also includes guitarist Jody Davis and keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, deliver a hard-rocking version of DC Talk's "Funky Jesus" on the album.
"It's such a great song," Phillips said. "I've been a closet DC Talk fan forever. We wanted to have fun with the song but we're not releasing it as a single. It's just a song we wanted to do as a nod to Michael's past."
Tait's future seems to be with the Newsboys, who plan on a long-term partnership.
"We have a whole new life with Michael," Phillips said. "I'm convinced that the best is yet to come. We work so well with him."
Tait says he is more than happy to be part of the Newsboys.
"This couldn't have worked out better for me," he said. "I'm fortunate to be part of a band I've always admired. I'm in a great situation and it's only going to get more interesting."
If you go
What: Christian concert with NewSong, Newsboys, David Crowder Band, Kutless, Francesca Battistelli, RED and KJ-52
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
How much: Free; cash donations accepted