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Newsboys United Contributed Photo / Newsboys United includes past and present Newsboys singers Peter Furler and Michael Tate.

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."

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Mandisa / Photo by Michael Gomez

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.

If you go

* What: Newsboys United: Greatness of our God Tour

* Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.

* When: 7 p.m. Friday, March 6

* Admission: $24, $28, $36 and $58

* For more information: 423-757-5580

 

"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."

It already looks like the Newsboys United reunion will last longer than some may have expected. The six-man lineup is on the road for a headlining tour.

And perhaps the biggest news of all is that a new self-titled studio album featuring the full Newsboys United lineup was released last May, with a single, "Greatness of Our God," leading the way.

The headlining shows Newsboys United have done have been generous affairs. Some shows have run as long as three hours and featured some 30 songs from throughout the group's career.

"We'll start off with Michael, then a few songs where we all play together. Then a few songs where Michael leaves and we delve into the older things with Peter, and we obviously all come back at the end of the night," Frankenstein said.

Some songs from the Newsboys United album figure to be in the set, too. Frankenstein is eager for people to hear the new album.

"It's kind of a mix of both worlds, to be honest," he said of the album. "It's not like a throwback record to the '90s or anything like that. Maybe that will disappoint people, but in some ways, maybe it won't. I don't know. It's kind of its own new thing in a way, and I think it works well ... So far it's good."

Mandisa, Adam Agee touring with Newsboys

Grammy Award-winning singer Mandisa and singer-songwriter Adam Agee are touring with Newsboys United on the Greatness of Our God Tour. She won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for “Overcomer” at the 56th Grammy Awards.

Mandisa first came to national attention as a finalist on Season 5 of “American Idol.” She released her version of popular worship song “Way Maker” at the first of this year and followed that with a February release of “Overcomer: The Greatest Hits,” her seventh album.

Agee began playing in a worship band in church before he and friends in the youth group formed Stellar Kart, which plays youth events all over the Southwest.

In 2014, he became the front man for Christian rock group DC Talk. He recently released a solo EP, “Paper Planes.”

 

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