Monday, September 10, 2012
Michael Tait talks about the historic night in Cleveland in June 1994 that he sang with dc Talk before 65,000 people and then Billy Graham preached
He is now with Newsboys and spoke to me before going on stage at Dodger Stadium
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LOS ANGELES (ANS) -- It was a huge departure for evangelist Billy Graham when back in June, 1994, he agreed to allow Michael W. Smith and the seminal Christian hop hope group, dc Talk (with their lead singer, Michael Tait), to perform at his first-ever "Youth Night."
I later interview Mr. Graham about the time he allowed them to replace the beloved George Beverly Shea, and asked him how he felt when they began performing before the huge crowd.
With a twinkle in his eye, the veteran preached said, “I don’t know. You see, as soon as they began, I turned my hearing aid off!”
Fast forward to last Saturday night (September 8, 2012) when Tait, now the lead singer with Newsboys, agreed to talk to me before going on stage at Greg Laurie’s Harvest LA crusade at Dodger Stadium, about that event and I asked him if what Mr. Graham had told me was, in fact, true.
With a huge smile on his face, he replied, “That’s a true story. As a matter of fact, about a month ago, I finished a piece for a book they’re putting out on Billy Graham and people that knew him and their fond thoughts and memories of him and I put together a little memoir of my time with Billy and that special night in Cleveland.
“It was Billy's late wife, who told me that story and she said that those of us who performed that night ‘stocked the pond so Billy could go fishing.'”
Tait then said, “We’d bring the kids out to the stadium and that night we broke the Cleveland stadium attendance. Along with others, such as Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay and Newsboys, we did some 27 crusades altogether with Billy Graham. Oh my goodness, man, it was amazing!”
I then asked Tait how the Harvest crusades compared with a Billy Graham crusade and he said, “I’ve done one Harvest Crusade with Greg Laurie, and that was with my Tait band about oh six or seven years ago so I can’t really recall exactly how what comparison I would make besides it’s a stadium event and the unsaved come out and, hopefully, they find Christ.”
What is your favorite story about Mr. Graham?
“I found it quite interesting that Obama sat in that chair and I sat there too.”
I wondered if dc Talk would ever re-form, and he said, “It’s finished for the moment, but remember the record called 'Intermission', well I have a strong feeling that down the road something’s going to happen again.”
Tait is now with Newsboys, a Christian pop rock band founded in 1985 in Mooloolaba, Australia. They have released 16 studio albums, six of which have been certified gold. Currently, the band consists of lead vocalist Michael Tait, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, guitarist Jody Davis, and drummer Duncan Phillips.
Sitting next to Michael Tait was Duncan Phillips, so I asked him how Tait had joined the band.
“So we knew that that it was going to work because his heritage was very similar to Newsboys and also there was a friendship there; a bond.”
Australian-born Phillips added, “The guy’s world class at what he does so there were four or five major things that all kind of added up and so we said, “Hey, let’s ask Michael Tait to come and be a part of the band.” It was all a very natural thing and it took us all of about thirty seconds to decide to ask him to be our lead vocalist and thankfully he accepted.”
Has he changed the style of the band at all?
“I think what Michael’s done is that he’s definitely brought that dc Talk swagger to Newsboys. We’ve always been a kind of quirky pop band, but what Michael has brought is a sheen that we didn’t have before and an opportunity to try new things and I think that’s what we’ve done especially with the first record we did together call Born Again.
“We kind of threw all the rules out the window of how we’d done it in the past and we just got the best songs we possibly could, then went into the studio, worked super hard, and came out of it the other side and it debuted at number four on the Billboard Top 200. And that was kind of the first light we saw at the end of the tunnel and we thought, ‘Guys, I think this is going to work.'”
With that, they left for the field to play and prove, like their latest album is called, God’s Not Dead, as thousands later streamed forward to accept Christ at Greg Laurie’s invitation at Dodger Stadium.
To watch a video of the main song on their new album, please go to: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FMF12FNU
* I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
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