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South Carolina rock group Needtobreathe debuted in the 2000s with an earnest tone and a big, ringing sound along with lyrics inspired by their Christian faith; they then found long-lasting crossover success with secular audiences. Years of touring, often with genre-spanning acts such as Train, Taylor Swift, and Tim McGraw, expanded their fan base and with each successive album, they climbed toward the top of the pop charts, emerging in the Top Ten with 2011's The Reckoning and rising to number two with 2016's Hard Love. Meanwhile, each of those records, as well as 2020's Out of Body, hit number one on the Christian Albums chart, as did Into the Mystery, which arrived in 2021 along with a companion documentary film. Caves, their sixth consecutive album to top the Christian chart, came out in 2023 and focused on themes of self-discovery. The band was formed by brothers Bear and Bryant "Bo" Rinehart, who were born and raised in rural Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, where their pastor father ran a church camp. After moving to nearby Seneca, the two siblings were exposed to a variety of music and started playing instruments themselves. Several years later, while enrolled at Furman University, Bear -- who was also an award-winning wide receiver -- moonlighted as a vocalist, guitarist, and pianist, even finding time to perform around campus with longtime friend and drummer Joe Stillwell. Meanwhile, Bo studied architecture at Clemson while playing guitar in his spare time. After graduation, both he and bassist Seth Bolt joined the Bear/Stillwell duo to form Needtobreathe. Since Bolt had received a degree in recording engineering, the band honed their sound while laying down several EPs at Bolt's own Plantation Studios. A strenuous tour of the U.S. Southeast and Midwest followed. The hard work paid off when Needtobreathe came to the attention of Atlantic/Lava Records, which signed the group in 2005. A debut full-length album, Daylight (the cover of which was painted by Bo), arrived one year later, recorded at the British Heliocentric Studios with Keane's producer Andy Green. Tours with Train, Collective Soul, and Will Hoge kept the guys busy throughout the year, and they returned to the studio in December to begin work on their follow-up. The Heat was released in August 2007, and helped establish the band as one of Christian rock's most successful newcomers, spawning several singles and earning two Dove Award nominations while maintaining a crossover audience. The Outsiders followed in 2009, boasting an epic sound reminiscent of U2 and the Fray. The album also highlighted the band's love for Southern rock, leading to a string of strong singles that helped The Outsiders fare well with Christian audiences (resulting in the receipt of three Dove Awards in 2010) and secular listeners (who helped push the album to number 20 on the Billboard charts). Needtobreathe's heavy touring ethic helped, too, and they wound up staying on the road for two straight years, playing festivals like Bonnaroo before opening a series of North American stadium shows for Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, they released the EP Live Horses in late 2010, and continued writing new material, much of which wound up on 2011's The Reckoning, which climbed to number six on Billboard's Hot 200. Stillwell exited the band in the summer of 2012, and an EP of songs from the Reckoning sessions titled Keep Your Eyes Open followed that fall and cracked Billboard's Top 100. Their five-track Cercas Blancas EP arrived in 2013. The following year, Needtobreathe released their fifth studio album, the down-to-earth Rivers in the Wasteland, as well as a live EP, 60/50 Ocean Way: The Live Room Sessions. Rivers in the Wasteland peaked at number three on the Billboard albums chart, and the song "Multiplied" earned Needtobreathe their first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song. Their first full-length live album, Live from the Woods at Fontanel -- recorded at the Nashville venue on September 13, 2014 -- was released in the spring of 2015, and was followed by the group's first North American headlining tour. A third Wasteland-related release, Rivers EP, appeared toward the end of 2015. It featured four reworkings of tracks from their hit album, including a new version of "Brother" with Gavin DeGraw. In early 2016, Needtobreathe announced their sixth studio LP, Hard Love. Released in July of that year, the album added hip-hop beats and a pop sensibility similar to OneRepublic's. Lead single "Happiness," with its gospel choir and handclapping, debuted on the Billboard Christian chart at number five. The album itself peaked at number two on Billboard's Top 200, making it the band's highest-charting album to date. Following a year of heavy touring in 2017, Needtobreathe returned in early 2018 with the singles "Bridges Burn," "Darling," and "Bullets" from the EP Forever on Your Side. Later that year, the group issued Acoustic Live, Vol. 1, which collected 12 tracks recorded during their 2017 acoustic tour. Returning to the studio in 2020, the band set to work on their seventh album. During this time, co-founder Bo Rinehart decided to part ways with the group. Shortly after his announcement, the remaining trio issued the singles "Hang On" and "Who Am I," the latter of which became a Top 30 hit on the U.S. Christian charts. Both tracks appeared on Out of Body (Elektra), which became their third consecutive Christian chart-topper later that August. A second collection of tour performances, Live from the Woods, Vol. 2, arrived in April 2021. With the group's 2020 tour plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Needtobreathe quarantined at a historic house in rural Tennessee, where they began recording. Their subsequent album, Into the Mystery, was released in July 2021 in conjunction with a documentary film of the same name directed by Chris Phelps that captured the recording process. Featuring guest appearances by Carrie Underwood and Switchfoot's Jon Foreman, Into the Mystery became the group's fifth consecutive album to hit number one on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart. In mid-2022, Needtobreathe issued the non-album single "Talk of the Town," and the following year they delivered the rousing spiritual discovery single "The Cave," foreshadowing their ninth studio album. Titled Caves, it arrived later that year, once again returning them to the top of the Christian Albums chart.
© Marisa Brown & Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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