The lead singer of the popular Christian band Newsboys has opened up about what it is like to be the only black member of a predominantly white band in a mostly white genre and touched on the trend of Christians “deconstructing” from the faith.
Musician Michael Tait spoke with The Christian Post in a recent interview discussing the release of the Newsboys’ new album, STAND, his experiences with race in the Church and music industry as well as his thoughts on people falling away from their faith.
“I find it increasingly frustrating to me that the most segregated day of the week is Sunday in a lot of our American Churches,” Tait told CP reporter Jeannie Law.
Tait, who identifies as African American, said he grew up with “black culture” in the “hood” of Washington, D.C., which some have referred to as “Chocolate City.”
“My dad was very quick to make sure as kids we met white people, Hispanic people, Asian people, Iranian people,” he said. “He went down the list because he knew that we are all human. We all bleed red blood. This hate stuff is for freakin birds. We don’t have time for that.”
Tait said the Church in America can reconcile racially but won’t happen without effort.
“[Segregation in the Church] goes under the guise of: ‘OK, I’m not a racist. I don’t mind white people. I don’t mind black people. … But, I’m just going to go over here because this is what I know,'” Tait added, referring to the choices Christians make across America on Sundays.
“We have to visibly leave that. But, it’s not going to happen through osmosis. We got to submerge ourselves in that culture, in that different experience and allow our norms to be shaken up a little bit.”
With his music background in Christian rock and contemporary Christian music (CCM), Tait said he is often not thought of as being black in those industries.
“I wasn’t successful in black gospel because I can’t sing black gospel. [And] the fact that my style sort of pushed into the CCM white market, it’s kinda funny because I don’t think people see me as a color,” he said.
“It’s kind of a big deal to have a black lead singer of an all-white band. But, for some reason, we don’t have that splash in Christian music. People say, ‘Oh, it’s Michael Tait, he’s the honorary negro.'”
Standing firm in the faith
Despite the questioning that Christians may receive from the mainstream culture about their beliefs today, Tait said it’s crucial for Christians to love their neighbors, take a stand for what they believe and remain firm in their faith.
“My dad would always say when we were kids, ‘If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything,'” Tait recounted. “And it’s true. Whenever our faith is being questioned, people want to say, ‘What’s your stance on that?’ And we cower away or be bold about it. Morality issues, life issues, you should stand on a certain point, and if you question that, [you] are deconstructing the faith.”
Amid the pandemic, many drifted away from the faith as worship services moved online and there was less opportunity for in-person fellowship and discipleship. Tait said that at first, he felt like God was “receding” or “pulling away.”
“Then it hit me in the same moment. He is not receding but reseeding in this period,” the singer said. “Don’t think He is pulling away.”
Tait said the Newsboys’ new song “Magnetic” touches on this perspective.
“‘Magnetic’ came from the fact that God pulls at man,” he said.
“God pulls at man. He’s not going to bum-rush His way into our lives. He is going to make it known that, with His Hand on us, He’s going to chase you down relentlessly,” Tait explained. “Your arms are too short to box with God. You want to surrender and say, ‘Lord, I’m not sure what’s going on, I’m not sure what tomorrow holds, I’m not sure if I’m going to make it through. But, I know one thing that is sure and constant and that’s You because You’re the same every day, yesterday and tomorrow.'”
When people struggle, Tait said God wants to be there to help them through the difficulty.
“When the times get tough and rough, … it’s not a matter of trying to run around it. Just go through it. God will walk you through it because through that, you’re going to gain strength, you’re going to gain power, you’re going to gain joy because the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Tait exclaimed. “You’re going to learn how not to moan and groan at every turn and realize that God has a plan for this whole thing. But you have to know where you stand first.”
One goal that Tait hopes to accomplish is to have an attitude similar to Apostle Paul, who he said “never gave up in the faith.”
“When we are kids, we learn ‘God is great’ and ‘God is good.’ That’s great and adorable but is God still great and good when your sister dies from AIDS, or your son dies of a drug overdose, or a friend dies from COVID?” Tait asked. “Of course, we know He’s still good, but it’s hard in those moments to say ‘He is good.’ We have to trust the God we put all our faith in, that He can carry us through the cray-cray times and the good times.”
Tait is featured in the new documentary “Jesus Music,” which hit theaters across the nation this fall. The documentary stars artists Michael Smith, Amy Grant, Kirk Franklin, Lecrae, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bill Gaither, TobyMac and others.
“I love the movie. Two thumbs up. It’s so good because it chronicles the life and times of Christian music from as far back as the ’70s … straight up until for King and Country,” Tait said. “The movie shows some of the struggles that [we] had, the new differences. It shows a variety of other songs. It’s going to be fantastic.”
Tait hopes the Newsboys will continue to “evolve until we dissolve.”
“We will keep rebuilding,” he concluded. “You’re only as strong as your last project. I want to have an array of things for people because that’s the kind of God we serve, a God of variety, a God of diversity, and the beauty is found in that diversity.”