DEL MAR, Calif. Everything is coming up new at this year's Spirit West Coast. The Newsboys, a mainstay at the annual Memorial Day weekend event, are a new, late addition after a previous scheduling conflict. And this year, they take the stage with a new sound and a new face as former dcTalk frontliner Michael Tait joins the band as lead vocalist.
Tait is a permanent replacement for lead singer Peter Furler who, after 22 years, has opted out of the grueling traveling schedule to concentrate on studio work and songwriting for the group.
"Newsboys is more than a band to me," Furler said in a statement. "It is a group of people: men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters pooling together their gifts and talents, making many sacrifices, and believing that together we are all making a difference in telling the good news of the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ to our generation. I am happy to say that this has not changed.
"I will continue on with the band as friend, songwriter, cheerleader and prayer partner."
Those attending the May 22 to 24 festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds will be among the first to experience the retooled group since the announcement was made in early March.
Although Tait played with the band for several weeks prior to the March 9 announcement, it shocked many in contemporary Christian music. The disclosure came without fanfare while Tait was leading the band at an Acquire the Fire event in Dallas.
"More than anything, over the last couple of weeks, we've really bonded as a band," Newsboys drummer Duncan Phillips said in a video interview immediately after the concert and which the group posted on its Web site.
Tait called the transition the merger of two great Christian rock traditions with dcTalk and Newsboys.
"Mac Powell (of Third Day fame) said it best. It's like merging McDonalds and Burger King together making it a super burger. We're not sure what that burger is going to taste like just yet. We think the crowd ingested some of it tonight."
Keyboard player Jeff Frankenstein said he expects the buzz to last for quite some time, a reward to those attending this year's Spirit West Coast.
"It's going to be a lot of fun for fans as we kinda get this thing rolling throughout the summer and at festivals and stuff. I think people are going to be curious to see how this whole thing works out," he said, "We're going to have a lot of fun."
The addition of the Newsboys complements an already amazing lineup of Mercy Me, Relient K, Tobymac, Kutless, Needtobreathe, Family Force 5, Red, Todd Agnew, Flatfoot 56, Lincoln Brewster, Barlowgirl, Phil Wickham, Fireflight, Stellar Kart, A Current Affair, Project 86, Starfield, Josh Wilson, Above The Golden State, Addison Road, Wavorly, Ruth, Runkidrun, Seabird, Unspoken, The Wedding, Manic Drive, House of Heroes, Sarah Macintosh, Storyside B, Sleep For Sleepers, Sonflowerz and Richard Andrew.
Life without limbs
Another new face for the event will be 25-year-old evangelist Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms or legs. The young speaker has traveled to nearly 20 nations, sharing his testimony of God's sovereignty.
"Faced with countless challenges and obstacles, God has given me the strength to surmount what others might call impossible," Vujicic said on his Web site. "Along with that, the Lord has placed within me an unquenchable passion to share this same hope and genuine love that I've personally experienced with more than two million people all over the globe."
Festival promoter, Jon Robberson of Celebration Concerts, said the young man is a powerful presenter who can put life in a purpose perspective that few can.
"He can say to them, 'You think you've had problems. It's not about arms and legs. It's about something much greater.'"
For more information about the concert, visit www.spiritwestcoast.com.