MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 39: NEEDTOBREATHE

‘…we’ve been very fortunate in that way [to be welcomed by both Christian and mainstream music]. There are a lot of bands that made that possible. Switchfoot was one of the bands that paved the way for that to happen. They fought some battles that we didn’t have to fight. We’re thankful for that for sure. It was really intentional, in terms of how we approached the early part of our career from a business standpoint. We got offered a lot of Christian contracts when we first came out and we turned those down because we wanted to make sure we set it up the right way and give ourselves a chance to be able to do everything we wanted to do. We made some mistakes along the way. I’d be lying if I said we did it all right. It hasn’t always gone according to plan, but at the same time, we’ve been really fortunate to do what we set out to do, which was make music for as many people as possible. We wanted kids who were like us to enjoy our music, but we also wanted their friends to like our music too. We wanted people that would never go to a Christian store or go to a church to listen to music to be able to get into our music. That’s what we set out to do. I think we’ve been able to keep that dream alive. God put that on our hearts and it’s been His plan, which has been amazing to be a part of…’

Never once in my life did I think that I would enjoy needtobreathe. For real. If you were to tell me a few years ago that I’d listen to this band on a regular basis and write a blog post about them being in a list that I believe to be the top 100 influential artists in modern music history, I’d laugh in your face. I will. Because when you think about it, needtobreathe aren’t really that famous. I mean, they are within the Christian industry for sure, but when you take the vastness of mainstream music and try to fit needtobreathe inside, I don’t think they’d even register. And maybe that’s ok. Let me just back up here a little bit. I started hearing needtobreathe and their music in the mid 2000s, sort of around when their 2nd album The Heat released. And around that time, I did hear of the band, but they weren’t that popular around that time- there were a few songs I heard at that moment- ‘You are Here’ and ‘Shine On’ to name a few. I knew that they were all Christians (or at least brothers Bear and Bo- lead vocalist and guitarist respectively- were). I knew they came from the South- South Carolina to be precise. And with all that information, I assumed that this band from the depths of Christian ‘hillbilly’ country was in fact that, a ‘hillbilly’ band, that I myself didn’t really seem to follow or even be excited about in my youth and teenage years. Besides, I was heavily listening to artists like Carman, Tim Hughes, Steve Grace, Delirious?, Matt Redman and Steven Curtis Chapman around that time. Needtobreathe certainly didn’t fit that mould. And thus…I didn’t push it. I heard a few songs here and there from the band and on I went in my growing up through my teens and early 20s. I was listening to what I was listening to. I was musically safe, and didn’t really feel as if there was any reason in the first place to even venture out of my ‘safe’ music bubble. Needtobreathe still was on the radio, and I did manage to catch a few Christ-centred songs from them over the years. And then came Rivers in the Wasteland and The Reckoning, two albums that I reckon propelled the band into international stardom and got the attention of mainstream media. The band blew up, figuratively, and the songs became much more appealing to both CCM and mainstream.

I decided to take a chance, and now here I am in 2020, and the band have grown on my quite a lot. The verdict? Yes, the band has taken their time for me to enjoy them and their songs, but what I will say is this- no they’re not popular, nor even famous, when looking at the grand scheme of things. But as I’ve said time and time again, popularity and influence need not be the same. And needtobreathe is the result of when influence is much more paramount to the band than fame and recognition. And yes, this selection into my own personal top 100 influential artists can be at the very least, a little controversial (alongside artists like Andrew Peterson and The McClymonts, that I’ve written about in my blog post series last year!), but as I’ve said, controversy is where discussion starts in what we believe to be influential or what we believe to be popular yet equally vapid. Bear, Bo and the rest of the band have created songs and albums that have tugged at the hearts and minds of ourselves who have followed their journey for years. The band are indeed influential to both people who love CCM, or mainstream or both. Critics of mainstream and CCM have both loved needtobreathe of recent years, one article stated that needtobreathe are ‘America’s most popular band you’ve never heard of’. That’s a big statement. And as I’ve listened to the band and their music on the regular for the last few years or so, I’ve come to appreciate the group all the more, and enjoy the ambiguity of the lyrics, understanding that needtobreathe are becoming like Skillet or Switchfoot- creating music for both CCM and mainstream to be impacted by and appreciate…and that is a good thing!

Needtobreathe released their debut album Daylight in 2006, and was well-received to an extent by Christian music and radio. Yes, there were still other ‘big’ artists around that time dominating the CCM charts- like MercyMe, Jars of Clay, Selah, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Third Day, even up and comers like Building 429, BarlowGirl and Sanctus Real, so I guess for needtobreathe to somehow fit in that frame was a tad too difficult. Nevertheless, the band created and created, and now here in 2020 have created somewhat a name for themselves. And as with Switchfoot that have gone before, this is indeed a band that isn’t too shy to ask the hard questions. While they are still labelled as a ‘Christian’ rock band as per their official Wikipedia article, the band themselves try to distance themselves against any label that they believe that can hinder them in their reach for people that they believe need to hear their music. For that is why music is created- so that people can hear it and be impacted, uplifted, and maybe, just maybe, alter a bit of their lifestyle and think about issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug. And needtobreathe, with their songs have done just that- songs like ‘Shine On’ and ‘You are Here’ from their earliest album Daylight, shine a light on loved ones, and how even during the dark moments of our lives, ‘you’ are here, and though ‘You are Here’ can easily be talking about God, it can still be talking about another friend or a close family member…and that’s ok. People take from music what they will, and often, if a lyric is too overt, then it alienates a certain audience. Then again, there’s bands like Casting Crowns and Newsboys that firmly believe that with all they have, they declare the gospel in their music. And that’s fine. But then there are some bands like Switchfoot and even needtobreathe, where they write from the heart about issues relating to the heart- whether it’s about God, life, Christianity, about relationships, about heartbreak, whatever it is, it is emotional and true and from a place that cannot be denied, and people connect on such a level as well. ‘Shine On’, sung from God’s point of view encouraging us all to shine and to let out the gift we’ve been given to spread to the world as we encourage people that we meet in our walk in life, was also from Daylight, and while the album as a whole did well initially in the year of 2006 when the songs were recorded, years later, frankly, the only two songs that I’m sure I remember from the album are indeed only ‘Shine On’ and ‘You are Here’- not to discount anything from their debut album, but it indeed shows the strength and maturity of the music and lyrics of all the albums and songs subsequently released following Daylight.

‘…Switchfoot have always had one foot in two camps- that of CCM and that of mainstream music, and while many can say that a band shall not be divided in its message and approach, I applaud the band sincerely and wholeheartedly for creating a whole discography that challenges the status quo, and having its place and meaning within the confines of Christian music, while also finding its purpose outside of it, as well. And when we look at their discography and glance through the songs, it’s no wonder that this band has so much appeal to so many…’ This above quote is such that I wrote about Switchfoot last year, in my 2nd blog post in this series, and upon review, the same can still be said about needtobreathe now. They are, if you will, following the pathway set by Switchfoot, just in their southern-rock way. It is a reminder that you can still have a firm faith in the Lord and be grounded in terms of what you believe, and still minister outside the four walls of the ‘church’, if you will. You can still go out into the world and sing for the masses, sing to the people of all different countries, creeds, beliefs, religions, sexual orientations, you can sing to a variety of people, and still believe in what you know to be true. Which is what needtobreathe has done. And a myriad of themes and songs that are ambiguous (in a right way) can definitely be seen from their second album The Heat onward, and that in and of itself is a great thing. For it a reminder that creating a song almost gives you licence to speak about almost every topic that can be judged as being ‘taboo’ in a sense. Faith can be discussed. Doubt, uncertainty, love, loneliness, worry, hope, joy, and everything else in between; expect all these facets and themes of life to be present in songs, especially needtobreathe’s. These guys from South Carolina are heartfelt, and though I’m sure not many people know them as people should, the band still deliver vibrant and enthusiastic live sets, and still deliver songs on a continual basis that stretches the understanding on what being human and living in a world more focuses on material wealth looks like, and through all of that still standing firm to believing in connection and family compared to the fame that many rock bands search for.

The Heat released in 2007; and featured what I reckon are some of the most emotive and heartfelt songs from the band, even years later. ‘Signature of Divine’ is perhaps their most overtly Christian song they’ve done, and not just a Christian rock song, but a praise and worship song too- which is good, because it reminds us that such a band like needtobreathe can sing about God through worship, but also create songs like ‘Brother’ (from Rivers in the Wasteland) that is about family and being brothers and being in communion with people around you, and people who listen to both these songs can feel the heart and passion behind them being the same. One is a song declaring the sovereignty of God. The other is about being there for one another and discussing the merits of brotherly love and the bond people share as brothers- be it by blood or brothers via circumstance or shared experience. And that is the beauty of the band- they’ve got a great thematic range, that their appeal can reach far and wide, and still they can stand firm in their calling and their belief to spread hope and joy in their music. it is a reminder that having faith and singing in the mainstream don’t have to be mutually exclusive, they can happen both at once. Which is a cool thing. Songs like ‘Streets of Gold’ (a song depicting a persona singing to a loved one that has passed before their time, and reminding them that they’ll see them again on the ‘streets of gold’- heaven), ‘More Time’ (a song about being away from loved ones when you’re pursuing your dream, and then reassuring them that just a few more time apart will make all the difference once the dream is realised) and ‘Washed By the Water’ (about a persona’s parents in a small southern preacher-town being ridiculed for something blown out of proportion, and ostracized because of such assumptions) are all standouts on The Heat, and are all emotive and poignant in their own way, and all don’t necessarily declare the word ‘Jesus’ right off the bat…which is ok.

There seems to be a little bit of a stigma held to the light of Christian music- that if you are ‘labelled’ as a ‘Christian artist’, then you have ‘sold out’, you are singing about something that people deem to be ‘irrelevant’. Because frankly, the world doesn’t really care much about Christian music. They don’t. Yes, there are people that are called to write and sing about Christianity and their music indeed reflects that, but choosing to sing Christian music can indeed be very limiting to career prospects. In needtobreathe’s case, Christian music has always given them their start in the industry, yet often-times, they feel like the label of being a ‘Christian’ musician can often harm more than help. As Bear says in his own words, ‘…any label is limiting. That one [Christian rock] in particular is especially limiting. Because if you’re not a Christian or you don’t like Christian music, I think when you read that you just think, “This band sucks.” To me, I think people pass over the band all the time because they read that. I think there’s a million different things that people mean when they say “Christian” – that word, much less Christian music. I was thinking today – I got a direct message or something from this guy, and he said, “I hate the new record. You used to be a Carolina band.” And I was like, “I don’t know what Carolina band means.” We still are – we didn’t move or anything. So for him, that must’ve meant acoustic guitar or something. For me, that means something different. That’s the problem with that term [“Christian”] – it’s confusing. But I think the reason people probably think “I don’t want to listen to this band” is because when they think of Christian music they think of Stryper or something crappy; they think of music that’s not as good…’ In some ways, people have a limited scope as what they believe Christian music to be. And in fact, it isn’t what people think at all. But nevertheless, that doesn’t really matter does it? Whether Christian music is exactly like what people assume it is, or if Christian music is so much more, it really doesn’t matter when people still have the assumption in their heads that Christian music sounds more along the lines of The Donut Man or VBS Bible School songs. Whatever the case, people seem to shy away from anything ‘Christian’, which is a shame. Needtobreathe on the other hand, are singing songs in a market that is predominately a force with a lot of religions and a lot of non-faiths too, and singing about their faith in a way as to relate to people from all walks of life. And that is such a beautiful thing to undertake and accomplish. For being called to minister in a different bubble than what you’re experienced to is one thing, but actually doing it for quite some time requires guts and courage. For that and that alone, needtobreathe are influential to a generation who are starting out that want to leave an impact and mark on a music industry that is so hungry for truth and hope- but done in a way that as to not bible-thump people everywhere the artist goes.

For someone to be influential, they need to bring about a sense of something different compared to all the ‘same’ that has been given to us countless of times before. This is certainly true of needtobreathe, and much of their discography, especially from The Ousiders onward, brings with it songs that don’t necessarily fit the ‘Christian rock’ mould nor does it fit the typical ‘mainstream pop/rock’ mould either, and that is a very much welcomed thing that sets needtobreathe apart compared to the myriad of Christian rock artists in the industry at the moment. With their trademark southern music style, Bear, Bo and the band give us songs that challenge our own thinking on a variety of topics we all need to look into, even in the moments when we’re away from the music and not being compelled to think about these things. ‘The Outsiders’, the first song from the album of the same name, speaks of being different in the sea of sameness, of having something different that others don’t, and realising that what we bring to the table and our offerings and things we know we can contribute, is something that will make situations and circumstances better. Being an outsider isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather, something to be celebrated- it means we stand for something and are firm in that, even when others stand or sit the other way. It means that we are true to what we believe even if it can seem foolish or even futile to even believe such a thing. An outsider is just a chance for people to see us and understand from our point of view, and vice versa. Which is something that needs to be talked about and discussed, to break down the assumption that an outsider is someone that doesn’t have it all together, nor do they know what to believe…which is far from the truth.

For me I’ve felt that The Outsiders showcased the band in its true element, and stretched the musical boundaries of what they even knew they were capable of- yes there were elements of the rock atmosphere that was showcased on both Daylight and The Heat, but I’ve always thought of The Outsiders to be more of a folk-sy roots rock album with a bit of a southern twinge to it. Songs like ‘Something Beautiful’, ‘Lay Em Down’, ‘Stones Under Rushing Water’, ‘Let Us Love’ and ‘Hurricane’, all different, unique and powerful songs in their own right, together form the backbone musically and even thematically on the album, one that carved the band’s career and their impact and tenure in both Christian rock as well as mainstream rock too. ‘Something Beautiful’, quite possibly one of the most radio friendly songs on the album, speaks of longing for something bigger than ourselves coming to create something beautiful out of our messes, while ‘Lay ‘Em Down’, encourages us all to lay down our troubles and difficulties at the side of a proverbial and metaphorical river- a song that we as Christians know is about us laying down our troubles and sins at the feet of Jesus (yet anyone who hears this song can interpret it as they wish). ‘Stones Under Rushing Water’ is a song of lament and looking back at the missed opportunities and wondering where life has gone- a song on the surface that has a futile woe-is-me message, but when looking deeper, is a song that encourages us all to take stock of our lives before it’s too late; while the songs ‘Let Us Love’ and ‘Hurricane’ both bring the joyous upbeat melodies back to The Outsiders– the former being a song wanting us all to go back to the times when loving someone was without condition, condemnation or even effort- like how children just loved just because, and the latter a song discussing the end of a relationship and likening that to a literal hurricane and the effects that come to lives, situations, and circumstances, in the aftermath.

The band then continued to walk along the line of the Christian-mainstream narrow line where bands like Skillet and Switchfoot walk; creating an album in 2011 called The Reckoning. For me, this album was the one that didn’t really make a lasting impression on me, and I’ve always felt that this album in particular was one that didn’t really have as many memorable moments as albums previous (and subsequent too!). Nevertheless, there were still a few bright moments to the album. ‘Drive All Night’ is a song where the persona pleads and wants someone to save them from ‘driving’ all night- a way of saying that they are going too fast in life, wanting to slow down but don’t know how; while ‘Slumber’ calls for people to wake up from their metaphorical sleep and move off our devices and other entertainment platforms and to focus on our life that is happening right in front of us. ‘Devil’s Been Talkin’ is a song that speaks about all the things that the devil himself could speak lies to us about, and what we may believe about ourselves and others if we listen to the lies, and ‘Keep Your Eyes Open’, another standout, is a melody about wanting to break out of the mundane and to explore the world outside what is already known- and that is done all the while with keeping your eyes open and attentive, always on the lookout for things- good or bad, that come your way.

‘…it got pretty intense there for a while [in making Rivers in the Wasteland]. We had talked ourselves into believing that it was actually good that we were fighting. It was competitive. We [Bo and I] were writing songs. He would write a song and I would try to beat it with another song. It just got to be almost a joke. It was two leaders of a band that were trying to be right all the time. It was really childish when you look at it. In the thick of those things, because our priorities had gotten screwed up a little bit, it made sense to us somehow. The process for making this record was huge for us. We were able to take some time off and look back at the situation. It drove us back to a place where we were ready to quit. We were over it. If this was the way it was going to be, we weren’t enjoying it anymore. It was tearing up our family relationship. That’s not how we got into this. We got into this because we loved every second of it. We got into this because we love each other. This couldn’t be our identity. We do it because God gave us this gift, but it can’t be more important than anything else. So we started backing up from that and it’s changed everything about how we do things. Our relationship has never been better. There’s a song on the record called “Brother.” It has a line that says, “Let me be your shelter.” We just want to defend each other. We want to be there for each other…[but the fighting] had gotten so bad. We got to the point where we were in different dressing rooms on the last tour. And it’s just childish. I can say it in a laughing way now, but it really speaks to how dark of a place we were in. Just like the first track on our record says, we were in a wasteland. “I’m the first one in line to die when the cavalry comes.” That’s the way it felt at the time. We titled the album Rivers In The Wasteland because we felt like God put a river into our relationship and something had to be done and was done. It was something new and refreshing that God did. He revived us from a dying place. It was a miracle. It really was. It took us a year to make that record that should have taken us three weeks to make. We had all the songs written and next thing you know it’s a year later. It just showed what kind of place we were in when we started. It was a God thing. He broke through and changed everything…’

It is in this quote about the story behind the making of their 2014 album that I can admire the band all the more. Rivers in the Wasteland is in fact my favourite album from the band, and I did review it for this website here, and thus, you can read about what I thought of the songs, but just a bit of an overview- the album as a whole features some of my favourite songs from the band ever- ‘Multiplied’, ‘Brother’, ‘The Heart’, ‘Difference Maker’, ‘More Heart Less Attack’ and of course the title track ‘Wasteland’; to name a few. All of these songs bring more of an organic flair to the fore and present a much more back-to-basics approach to the album as a whole. It was their 2014 album when I myself became an avid fan of the band, knowing full well that needtobreathe always had this uncanny ability to infuse faith and relationship messages in their songs to seemingly follow artists like Switchfoot and Skillet before them, as they continue to break down the barrier of Christian and mainstream music. Rivers in the Wasteland delivered songs unparalleled by any other needtobreathe album previously and post: for me I’ve always felt their 2014 album was the one I always related to the most, and was the most sentimental for me personally- being when I realised that artists can have one foot in mainstream and Christian music, and still do both well. Sure, there was Switchfoot that went before needtobreathe and paved a way for them, but for me it was only in 2014 when I reviewed needtobreathe’s album Rivers in the Wasteland that I understood what it meant to make music primarily for the mainstream culture yet still have grounded values, and still sing about things that would otherwise seem in popular culture to be vapid and outdated. Things like family values, the deep and darkest fears of your soul, the questions about identity and where we fit in society, alongside camaraderie, friendship, brotherhood and longing in relationships, are things that are central and core to human beings, yet current music of today seem to not delve into these things that often. Needtobreathe are giving us all hope that they will change the discourse and conversations relating to music and things discussed in music, because of their own messages and anthems they have delivered over the years; and will continue to deliver into the future. Rivers in the Wasteland, not as rock as previous albums, but still rock enough for them to not fit entirely into the mainstream, is perhaps one of the most surprising albums of that particular year, and an album that I’ll continue to spin and listen to within the upcoming months and years ahead.

‘…people sometimes give us too much credit when they listen to our record and think about the forethought that goes into how a record is going to end up. A lot of times, a record, when you’re writing it, is so raw. A lot of the songs are written during those tough times. We were amazed at the end of the process [of making Rivers in the Wasteland of] how God put this record together. It was almost prophetic in a way. You know what you’re writing about because you’re in the situation, but you don’t necessarily see the end of the situation and how it’s going to tie itself up. Some of the tracks at the beginning of the record are in a really dark place and at the time, to be completely honest, I didn’t know what the purpose of putting those songs down was. I just knew that’s where was. That’s the real power of the record. It was a real journey being documented. I think you can hear that in the songs. It keeps us humble for sure. It makes us know that we don’t have all the answers. God allowed us to finish the process, but it was like He was reminding us that we have to trust Him moving forward. We had to learn while we were making this record. Our best records have been made that way. We couldn’t see the end of it before we started and we didn’t know how it was going to wrap up…’

It was after Rivers in the Wasteland that I believe that needtobreathe was able to gain more traction, respect and intrigue, especially within mainstream music. They were still grounded in their faith, but their music from I reckon 2014 onward took on a new dual meaning as we saw the CCM industry and mainstream music alike respond favourably to this South Carolina band. 2016 saw a new album in Hard Love– an album that brought with it singles like ‘Happiness’, ‘Testify’ as well as the title track, and delivered poignant and hard-hitting lesser-known melodies in both ‘Money and Fame’ and ‘Be Here Long’. It has been these songs for me that have made HARD LOVE the album stand-out in a way that Rivers In the Wasteland stood out with songs like ‘Brother’, ‘The Heart’ and ‘Difference Maker’. It is a reminder that songs with different musical undertones and musical styles can still evoke similar emotional responses- as all this music is tied into one band still delivering an all-round message of hope and encouragement, yet choreographed and delivered in different ways so that people who appreciate different musical styles can be impacted by what the band wants to project to the listener. HARD LOVE as an album states that the journey of life is hard, that when we want a certain thing in life, we do in fact have to put in the hard yards and work at it, often at times not feeling like we want to, but nevertheless understanding that it is in the times where we feel the most despondent to carry on, that we can dig deep and allow the Lord to use whatever He does for us to keep going on our journeys and quests into the love we yearn, for ourselves and for others, but oftentimes feel like it is a ‘hard’ thing to attain or even hold onto.

Needtobreathe have delivered a myriad of themes on HARD LOVE– ‘Happiness’ speaks of our innate longing as humans to pursue this thing called ‘happiness’, often at the detriment of everything else, while ‘Testify’ is a southern-gospel track of us declaring the good things that have happened in our lives in the past and reminiscing on what has occurred in our lives that we can reiterate in order for others, who may be going through things of a similar nature to us, to feel encouraged in their own walks in life. The title track ‘Hard Love’ is ‘…a fresh take on a rock song, and we added in some heavy synth parts. It was an undertaking and an inspiring experience. Speaking for myself, when I’m feeling like I’m against the world and nothing’s going my way and I’m down, for me personally, the thing that has gotten me through every day is my faith. It’s the backbone of who I am as a person and who I want to be as person and a dad. The only way I can face the wolves in life and in battles, is with my faith. Whether you are in a war with something or a struggle in life or your job, the only way I feel effective as a creative person in a band is to find a way to make something work. In life you can look for something that makes you feel good for a time, but my faith has never let me down, and that is what I’ve needed in those moments…’; and then there’s ‘Money and Fame’ and ‘Be Here Long’- the former being a sobering and introspective look at how money and fame can indeed ruin someone’s life and take over their morals and make them do things that they would otherwise not undertake, while the latter is a heartfelt melody of loving and losing loved ones, and a reminder that this place we’re in is just transient and short, that if we truly believe that Christ makes all things new, and that there is indeed a heaven waiting for us on the other side of this life, then we will see our loved ones again, in a place with no more pain or hurting, where we can praise our Lord Jesus and be with the people that are important to us, in a place that is far beyond what we can even ask, imagine or even conjure up!

Hard Cuts EP arrived merely a year later than HARD LOVE, and while the track-listing only stood at 6 songs (inclusive of 2 new recordings of ‘Hard Love’…so in essence, only 4 ‘new’ songs), for me I’ve felt this EP was in fact some of their most emotive and vulnerable music to date- ‘Waiting’ employs a synth-organ as Bear Rinehart speaks of his love for a woman, and that the waiting that he is experiencing is making his yearning for this woman all the more deeper, as we understand that often, it is in the waiting between the now and the not yet that we can truly see if this thing we’re waiting for is worth-while or not; while songs like ‘Count on Me’ and ‘Cages’ employ deep introspective thoughts and messages we as a society need to delve deep into- ‘Count On Me’ feels like a ‘Brother’ part 2, while ‘Cages’ speaks of how we may chase after the things we can often think bring us freedom and redemption, but more often than not, it will lead to a place of enslavement and feeling like we’re trapped in cages. It is a reminder that we are all in cages in our lives at some point- be it in a physical sense, mental or even spiritual. It is in the surrender to not our own control of the situation but God’s, that we can find the joy even in the midst of the cage, we can find the purpose through the difficulty, the beauty in the refining and the hope within the hopeless.

But for me a song that has helped me in recent times is ‘Walking on Water’- one of their most outwardly ‘religious’ songs alongside ‘Testify’, ‘Multiplied’ and ‘Signature of Divine’. The song itself, according to band member Josh Lovelace, is ‘…one of the more straightforward songs we’ve written for this project. It is from Peter’s perspective [the disciple of Jesus when he was walking on the water coming to Jesus in the storm], and it is also about us as people, looking out and looking forward. We get to play music for beautiful people every night, and they also have us feeling like we are walking on water. It’s a constant reminder to keep your eyes looking ahead…’ It is about stepping into the unknown, and following Jesus who may call us into situations we may not often understand, or even accept to be happening and true at that moment, yet we still walk, knowing full well that we trust Him for who He is and what He’s done, and that is enough to keep going and walk on the water as He did. Yes, that may sound like a futile and foolish concept, yet Needtobreathe have given to us an anthem that has become mine in times of trouble and uncontrollable situations. ‘Walking on Water’ gives us encouragement that with God with us, we can do immeasurably more than we can even conceive, and that in and of itself should be exciting enough to keep going and moving forward, no matter the cost and no matter how long this journey from starting point A to destination B could take!

So there you have it. Needtobreathe. Fast forward to 2019, and the band continued to deliver poignant songs in the release of their EP in 2018, Forever On Your Side, of which I reviewed on this site, and you can read it here (so I won’t rehash that here in this blog space). But what I will say is this- this band from South Carolina completely and blew me away in a good way, and never once did I love a ‘mainstream’ band as I have right now- well, maybe Switchfoot…yeah, both needtobreathe and Swichfoot are indeed the bands that have inspired me on my own journey into different musical avenues and my very own appreciation of different styles over the years. But having said all that, needtobreathe are still on the end of ‘influential but not popular’, and maybe that’s ok. In fact, a lot of artists I’ve written about in my blogs so far are within that category- guys like The McClymonts, Andrew Peterson, Daughtry, Lifehouse, Sara Bareilles, even up-and-comers like For KING AND COUNTRY and Tenth Avenue North…they’re famous but not. They influence, but when placed against the pole of which is U2, DC Talk, Rascal Flatts, Ed Sheeran, Phil Collins…well; you get the picture. But maybe needtobreathe doesn’t have to be famous for them to reach the people they need to reach in this society. And that’s ok. I’ve learnt that the music I listen to isn’t what ‘normal’ people listen to, and I’ve learnt to be different in that. Not many people may see the appeal of this southern-gospel-rock band, nor would they even agree that this artist is on my personal list of 100 influential artists, and that’s ok. But hopefully from this blog, people can at least check out this band, even if it is only once, just to see how they are and whether they resonate with them or not. And maybe, just maybe, this band can impact like it always does to people who listen, myself included!

Does needtobreathe make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song (other than ‘Brother’ or ‘Hard Love’) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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