- (PHOTO: MergPR)
A new CD released this week commemorates renowned evangelist Billy Graham, a father figure to current Newsboys' lead singer Michael Tait, who contributes a song to the album.
"I remember being a kid watching TV, seeing the Grahams on ABC," Tait told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday about the new CD "My Hope: Songs Inspired by the Message and Mission of Billy Graham." As a child, he would never have imagined actually partnering with the great evangelist. "I just loved to be part of something so great in our century."
Now, the Newsboys lead singer can say "I am deep, deep in the family tree with those guys." His history with the Graham family traces back to the days when Tait formed the award-winning band DC Talk, along with Toby McKeehan and Kevin Max.
"Michael, Toby, you guys stock the pond so that Billy can go fishing," Tait recalled Graham's late wife Ruth telling him as a member of DC Talk. At first he had no idea what she was talking about. Then she added "fill the stadium so that he can preach to lost souls."
Tait recalled filling 20 stadiums with Graham back in the 1990s. "He means a lot to me and I'd say he's my white daddy," the artist added with a laugh.
The Newsboys' song for the album, "We Believe," emphasizes faith in the traditional tenets of Christianity – the trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, along with the redemptive death and resurrection of Christ – as the "one foundation," the "one salvation" to rely on in dark times. "If Billy Graham could sing, he would sing these lyrics," Tait said.
The album comes as the first part of a grand project entitled "My Hope with Billy Graham." Originally launched in 2002 by Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), My Hope has been implemented in 57 countries and is credited with leading more than ten million people to commit to Christ.
But the largest step is yet to come, as previewed by this CD, and the book The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, which became available Tuesday, the same day as the album's release. Next month, when Graham turns 95, "he will broadcast the message of hope in Christ across the nation through various broadcast formats," according to a July press release. Preparations for this multimedia event, "perhaps the largest evangelistic event in U.S. history," are continuing on schedule.
The album itself features at least 10 entirely new songs from popular Christian artists like Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and Matthew West, along with a brand new recording of "City on Our Knees" by TobyMac.
"We are thrilled about the My Hope album and the attention it is bringing to the message Billy Graham has faithfully preached for more than 70 years," Ken Barun, the BGEA's chief of staff, told The Christian Post in a statement this week. "Our focus is on the Gospel, and this album comes out at an important time," he added.
"The lyrics of these new songs are the essence of what we are all about as a ministry," Barun proclaimed.
"Everyone has come together out of our tremendous love and respect for Billy Graham – the impact he has had on all of us and the impact he has had on eternity is immeasurable," worship artist Michael W. Smith said.
During the interview, Tait also mentioned his future plans to CP: next year, he and the other Newsboys members (his current band) will go on a crusade with Billy Graham's son, Franklin. "We've been to Eastern Europe with him," Tait said, but noted that he is unsure exactly how far across the world they will travel this time. "Where the Gospel's preached, we'll go with him."