DC Talk
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DC Talk

DC Talk
Dctalk-group-picture.jpg
DC Talk members left to right: Michael Tait, Kevin Max Smith, Toby McKeehan
Background information
OriginLynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
Genres
1987-present (hiatus)
LabelsForeFront, Virgin
Websitewww.dctalk.com
Members

DC Talk (stylized as dc Talk) is a Christian rap and rock trio. The group was formed at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1987 by Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max Smith. They released five major studio albums together: DC Talk (1989), Nu Thang (1990), Free at Last (1992), Jesus Freak (1995), and Supernatural (1998). In 2002, the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music called DC Talk "the most popular overtly Christian act of all time."[1]

In 2001, the group released an EP titled Solo, which contained two solo songs from each member. Since that time, DC Talk has been on an indefinite hiatus, and the three band members all have led solo careers. They performed and recorded individual songs together several times during the 2000s, although the group never officially reunited or disbanded.

The group's musical style evolved significantly throughout its career. Its first two releases, DC Talk and Nu Thang, were of the hip hop genre. DC Talk's third album, Free at Last, also mainly took influence from the hip hop style, although the group's music began taking on a rock sound. The trio's last two albums, Jesus Freak and Supernatural, were predominantly pop rock.

History

Formation

While attending Liberty University, Toby Michael McKeehan met Michael DeWayne Tait, and the two began to perform together. Tait had previously been featured on Jerry Falwell's The Old Time Gospel Hour and with the Falwell Singers.[2] He also performed solo, what TobyMac later described as a "kind of an R&B / church-oriented music."[3]

The two joined forces to record a song that McKeehan had written, "Heavenbound".[2] They performed the song before an audience of 8,000 Liberty students with McKeehan rapping and Tait singing the chorus.[2] The song was well received, selling out the approximately 3,000 copies[2] of their demo tape, Christian Rhymes to a Rhythm. The tape included "Heavenbound" and was distributed by the group in the Washington D.C. area.[4] The group's demo tape eventually led to a recording contract with Forefront Records in 1988.[2] Kevin Max Smith, came from a campus rock band to join the group,[3] and the trio called themselves "DC Talk and the One Way Crew".[4] The name was later simplified to "DC Talk", which came to stand for "decent Christian talk", though originally "DC" was from Washington, D.C., where Toby McKeehan was rapping.[4]

DC Talk (1989)

After signing the recording contract with ForeFront, the trio released their self-titled debut album, DC Talk, in 1989 with Mike Valliere and Vic Mignogna. The music video for their first single, "Heavenbound", received airplay on the BET network.[5] According to Kevin Max, the self-titled record is the only DC Talk record that doesn't feature him singing even though he is credited on the album.[]

Nu Thang (1990-1992)

Their follow-up full-length release, Nu Thang, and a Christmas three-song EP titled Yo! Ho! Ho!, were both released in 1990. Nu Thang had two successful singles: "I Luv Rap Music" and "Can I Get a Witness".[6] Apart from dealing strictly with Christian themes, the band incorporated songs addressing social issues, such as racism in the song "Walls" and abortion in "Children Can Live Without It".[5] The hip hop/pop styling of the album earned the band attention, expanding the group's audience, and by 1991, Nu Thang had sold 200,000 copies.[4] The band became an opening act for Michael W. Smith and received a Dove Award.[4][7] The release of their Rap, Rock, n' Soul video garnered a wider audience for the group, being certified gold for long form video.[1][7]

In 1992, a year after its release, Nu Thang sold more than 300,000 copies and gave the trio two more Dove Awards.[4] In addition to the increasing attention that the group began to receive, DC Talk appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show that same year.[4] "Nu Thang" was eventually certified gold, selling over 500,000 copies, an impressive feat for a Christian artist at that time.[1]

Free at Last (1992-1994)

In November 1992, the group released their third album, Free at Last, which was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA in 1995.[8] In 2001, CCM ranked "Free at Last" as the 9th best album in Christian music.[9] The album included a cover version of the Bill Withers song "Lean on Me" and a remake of "Jesus Is Just Alright", originally recorded by the Art Reynolds Singers.[6]Free at Last stayed at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard CCM sales chart for 34 weeks and was the band's first album to top the Christian Albums chart.[6][7][10] DC Talk became one of the first contemporary Christian groups to perform on late-night television[] when, on November 12, 1993, the band performed "Jesus Is Still Alright" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[11]Free at Last also garnered the group's first Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album in 1994.[1][6] The success of the album is attributed to the group moving away from a strictly rap sound to a blend of hip hop and pop.[7] The album also prompted the filming of a documentary film with the same name. In 1994, the band released a Christmas single, "We Three Kings", on the album "Joyful Christmas".

Free at Last: The Movie

During the Free at Last tour, the band was followed around by camera crews to film a documentary. The documentary was planned to be released as a theatrical film, Free at Last: The Movie, and was heavily promoted on Lightmusic TV, a Christian music video show. After months of teaser trailers, they abruptly stopped, for the movie could not find a distributor.[12] Eight years after the film was to be released theatrically, the movie was finally released on DVD in unfinished form. Some of the footage used for the movie was shown in the music video for "The Hardway".

Jesus Freak (1995-1997)

Jesus Freak was released in 1995, and it achieved the highest first-week sales of any Christian release at the time,[6][] reaching No. 16 on the Billboard 200.[13] The album, which was ultimately certified double platinum,[8] was certified gold within thirty days of its release.[14] This album was a fusion of the musical stylings, with a more pop-rock oriented sound combined with hip hop.

Jesus Freak marked a milestone in the group's commercial career as they signed a deal with Virgin Records in 1996 to distribute their music to the mainstream market.[7][15] It also earned dc Talk their second Grammy.[1]

The title track is also of historical importance. It is believed to be the first link between grunge and rapcore in Contemporary Christian music, and was the first non-Adult Contemporary song to win the Dove Award for Song of the Year. The song was also played on some secular stations.[1][16] "Between You and Me" was a successful single, reaching No. 24 and No. 29 respectively on Billboard's Adult Contemporary and Hot 100[13] and No. 12 on Casey's Top 40, while the video received regular airtime on MTV and VH1.[6]

With the release of the album, the group launched a massive tour titled the Freakshow Tour,[6] which took the trio across the United States, Canada, and Europe. The group released a live video titled Live in Concert: Welcome To The Freak Show which contained footage from the tour.[7] An audio CD of the soundtrack from the video was also released under the same title, reaching No. 109 on the Billboard 200.[13] The CD Welcome to the Freakshow was certified gold and won dc Talk another Grammy award.[1]

The album is looked at by many as one of the greatest and most important albums to be released in Christian music.[17]

Supernatural (1998-2000)

Supernatural, released in 1998, was their last all-new studio album. Upon release, the album overtook Jesus Freak to set a new record for the highest first week sales for a Christian release.[6] It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts, a feat for a Christian rock album.[7]Supernatural abandoned the hip hop/rap style found on the group's earlier releases to settle for the pop/rock sound.[7] The group has stated in The Supernatural Experience video that this album was different; it was a collaborative effort of all three members.[7] The singles for the album received their fair share of radio play on modern rock, contemporary Christian, and alternative outlets. The group then embarked on a 60-city tour across the United States titled, The Supernatural Experience. Footage from the tour was combined with interviews and released as The Supernatural Experience video and was certified gold for long form video.[1]

In addition to touring and recording Supernatural, the members of the group went on to co-author a book titled Jesus Freaks in collaboration with The Voice of the Martyrs in 1999. The book contains the shortened biographies and incidents in the lives of famous and lesser-known Christians who stood up for their faith. Since then, the group has co-authored a series of other books.[]

In 2000, DC Talk hosted a show titled Intermission: A Decade of DC Talk.[18] A compilation album titled Intermission: The Greatest Hits was then released, containing many of their previously recorded songs either remixed or in their original formats. Two new songs, "Chance" and "Sugar Coat It", were recorded for the album. Intermission reached No. 81 on the Billboard 200.[13]

Hiatus period (2000-present)

In 2000, the members announced that they would be taking a break from the group to pursue solo efforts. They released Solo: Special Edition EP, which contained two new songs from each member's solo ventures and a live version of the U2 song "40" performed by all three members. The EP reached No. 142 on the Billboard 200 and won dc Talk their fourth Grammy award.[1][13]

During their hiatus, DC Talk has continued to sporadically release singles together, including "Let's Roll" (2002), which was about the September 11, 2001 attacks.[19] Multiple compilation albums have been released during their hiatus, including the 10th anniversary versions of their albums Free at Last (2002) and Jesus Freak (2006), as well as 8 Great Hits (2004), Freaked! (2006), The Early Years (2006), Greatest Hits (2007), Back 2 Back Hits (2011).[20] The three members still frequently show up at each other's shows and cover DC Talk songs.[21][22][23] The band has also continued to helped each other in their respective solo careers, including "Atmosphere" by tobyMac (2004), a cover of "The Cross" by Kevin Max (2007), and "Love Feels Like" by tobyMac (2015).[24][25] In 2015, Gotee Records announced the issuance of Jesus Freak and Supernatural on vinyl.[26]

In 2010, the trio performed with other contemporary Christian artists to serve as the backing choir for "Come Together Now", a song about the 2010 Haiti earthquakes.[27] Later in the year, Kevin Max admitted that he would love to make more DC Talk music, but he thinks "that time has passed us by...". He then explained, "as individuals we are so different in our approaches that it might be quite a process."[28] tobyMac released the song "Wonderin'" with his album Tonight; the song is "a warm look back at DC Talk" for Toby.[29] On October 11, 2016, the trio came together to perform "Love Feels Like" at the Allen Arena in Nashville, Tennessee for the 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards.[30]

Reunion tour

In June 2010, Kevin Max tweeted that he was trying to arrange a reunion tour for "perhaps" 2011.[22][28] In January 2011, TobyMac stated that a reunion tour would probably happen "sooner or later", but not in the near future.[31] In January 2014, Tait indicated that he liked the sound of a "20-years-later" tour in 2015,[32] but tobyMac commented that "nothing concrete is in the works" due to conflicting schedules.[33]

DC Talk performed two concerts on July 13, 2017, and a third show on July 14, 2017 aboard the MSC Divina in the Bahamas on the reunion cruise. The group hinted at more reunions to take place in the future.[34]

Activism

The group is notable for its stances against racism (as evidenced by "Colored People", the second track of Jesus Freak), as well as the uncompromising Christian message in its music. "We're very open about our Christian faith," says McKeehan, "but when we make our records we want to create a musical experience that anyone can immerse themselves in." But still, he says, "one of our goals is to encourage listeners to question themselves and to seek out truth."[35]

E.R.A.C.E. (Eliminating Racism And Creating Equality) was launched in September 1997 when DC Talk participated in the "Racial Reconciliation Rally" in Little Rock, Arkansas. The rally was part of a week-long emphasis on racial reconciliation.[36] In 1998, the group began the E.R.A.C.E. Foundation to combat racism.[36] The foundation was started after four years of discussion and planning with manager Dan Pitts and Gotee Records President, Joey Elwood. The primary aim of the foundation is to educate and equip America's youth with "an understanding of the importance of interracial unity". The foundation works on healing historically divided groups and healing rifts within the society.[36]

Group members

Band

  • Jason Halbert - keyboard, organ
  • Otto "Sugar Bear" Price - bass
  • Mark Townsend - guitar
  • Erick Cole - guitar
  • Martin Upton - guitar
  • Brent Barcus - guitar
  • Will Denton
  • Rick "Mayday" May  - drums
  • Ric "DJ Form" Robbins - DJ
  • Marvin Sims - percussion
  • GRITS - choreography
  • Barry Graul - guitar

Timeline

Discography

Bibliography

  • Jesus Freaks (1999)
  • Live Like a Jesus Freak (2001)
  • Jesus Freaks: Promises for a Jesus Freak (2001)
  • Jesus Freaks Volume II: Stories of Revolutionaries Who Changed Their World Fearing God, Not Man (2002)
  • Jesus Freaks: Revolutionaries (2005)
  • Jesus Freaks: Martyrs (2005)

Awards and nominations

Grammy Awards

Dove Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1992 Rap, Rock, & Soul Long Form Music Video of the Year Won
"I Love Rap Music" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Won
1993 "Can I Get a Witness" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Won
1994 "Socially Acceptable" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Won
"Jesus is Just Alright" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Won
1994 "Luv is a Verb" Rap/Hip Hop Recorded Song of the Year Won
1996 DC Talk Artist of the Year Won
"Jesus Freak" Song of the Year Won
"Jesus Freak" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Won
1997 "Between You and Me" Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year Won
Jesus Freak Rock Album of the Year Won
"Like It, Love It, Need It" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Won
"Jesus Freak" Short Form Music Video of the Year Won
1998 "Colored People" Short Form Music Video of the Year Won
1999 DC Talk Group of the Year Nominated
DC Talk Artist of the Year Nominated
"My Friend (So Long)" Rock Recorded Song of the Year Nominated
Supernatural Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year Nominated
2000 The Supernatural Experience Long Form Music Video of the Year Won
2001 "Dive" Alternative/Modern Rock Song Won
2004 Free at Last: The Movie (10th Anniversary) Long Form Music Video of the Year Nominated

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Powell, Mark Allan (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 239-42. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dougherty, Steve (January 24, 1994). "Rap Finds God". People Magazine. Retrieved 2009.
  3. ^ a b Newcomb, Brian Quincy (April 1990). "Rhythm, Rhyme, & The New World Music". CCM Magazine. 12 (10): 38, 40-41. ISSN 1524-7848.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Gersztyn, Bob (2005). "DC Talk". Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music. 1 (1 ed.). Routledge. pp. 97-98. ISBN 0-415-94179-2.
  5. ^ a b "DC TALK-Def, Not Dumb". CCM Magazine. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "dc Talk homepage". Dctalk.com. Retrieved 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Soupernatural Movie Soundtrack - dc Talk Bio". Soupernaturalmovie.com. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ a b "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Granger, Thom (2001). The 100 Greatest Albums n Christian Music. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers. pp. 44-47. ISBN 0-7369-0281-3.
  10. ^ "dc Talk Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ "Jesus Is Just Alright (Live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) 1993". dc Talk. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Danél Griffin. "Film as Art: Danél Griffin's Guide to Cinema:DC Talk: Free at Last". University of Alaska Southeast. Archived from the original on January 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d e "dc talk: Chart History". billboard.com. Retrieved 2009.
  14. ^ Herman, Michael (2000). "Expect the Supernatural..." Christianity Today. Retrieved 2009.
  15. ^ "Supermen". CCM Magazine. October 2000. Archived from the original on July 20, 2010. Retrieved 2009.
  16. ^ John Bush. "dc Talk: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "dc Talk Timeline". Dctalkunite.com. Retrieved 2011.
  19. ^ "Let's Roll - dc Talk | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ "Back 2 Back Hits: Supernatural/Jesus Freak | dc Talk | Album". MTV. Retrieved 2011.
  21. ^ "TobyMac and Michael Tait are freaks...Jesus Freaks". YouTube. February 21, 2010. Retrieved 2011.
  22. ^ a b kevinmax (June 1, 2010). "Twitter / kevinmax: Trying to get a dct tour h". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ "News - TobyMac & Michael Tait Reunited On Stage At BigChurchDayOut". Louder Than The Music. May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  24. ^ "DC Talk's 'Love Feels Like' Reunion Makes Long Awaited Debut on TobyMac's 'This is Not a Test' [LISTEN HERE]". BREATHEcast. 2015-08-07. Retrieved .
  25. ^ TobyMacVEVO (2015-08-07), TobyMac - Love Feels Like (Lyric Video) ft. dc Talk, retrieved
  26. ^ Staff. "First Ever Vinyl Release of dc Talk's 'Jesus Freak' and 'Supernatural'". CCM Magazine. Retrieved .
  27. ^ ""Come Together Now" ... the Christian music community is uniting, in song, to help Haiti | CrossRock". LancasterOnline.com. January 26, 2010. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  28. ^ a b "Christian Pop Star Kevin Max On Wanting To Stay Close To Home". Celebrity Baby Scoop. Retrieved 2011.
  29. ^ "Weekend22". Weekend22. June 4, 2011. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  30. ^ "The 48th Annual GMA Dove Awards | Honoring Outstanding Achievements and Excellence in Christian Music". doveawards.com. Retrieved .
  31. ^ [1][dead link]
  32. ^ "DC Talk Reunion 'Jesus Freak 20 Years Later Tour' Confirmed by Michael Tait? TobyMac, Audio Adrenaline, and Newsboys on the Dream Tour Bill Too : Song Stories". breathecast. January 2, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  33. ^ "Ageless TobyMac Talks about DC Talk Reunion (It Could Happen)". GCUToday. February 24, 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  34. ^ 7 Takeaways from the DCTalk Cruise, retrieved
  35. ^ "DC Talk: Bio Page".
  36. ^ a b c "the E.R.A.C.E. foundation - our history". Erace.com. Retrieved 2011.

External links


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