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Singer hears the call to become a rock star

April 06, 2011|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • The Newsboys are, from left, Jody Davis, Michael Tait, Jeff Frankenstein and Duncan Phillips.
Submitted photo

WILLIAMSPORT —
Call it a coincidence or fate or maybe a little divine intervention.

Whatever you call it, what happened to Jeff Frankenstein in 1994 jump-started a career with one of Christian rock’s most enduring bands, the Newsboys.

The Newsboys will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at Gateway Ministries in Williamsport. The concert kicks off the band’s 26-city “Born Again Experience” tour in the United States.

“I was a runner at a Newsboys show when the band was just getting started (in the States),” Frankenstein said during a telephone call from Cincinnati as the Newsboys finished the last leg of their winter tour.

The Newsboys had formed in Australia while Frankenstein was still in elementary school. The band broke into the American market in the 1990s, earning praise and critical acclaim for such singles as “Shine” and “Let It Rain.”

Frankenstein met the Newsboys when they performed at a local high school in Detroit where he grew up, and a friend of his was promoting the show. Frankenstein was called upon because his mom had a minivan that could help with moving equipment.

Through that experience, he met band members and talked about his music. Frankenstein chalked it up to a great experience and moved on.

“Then about two months later I got a call,” he said. “I was coming home from a night class in college and my mom told me that the Newsboys called and that they needed a keyboard player right away.”

Frankenstein returned the call that catapulted him from college student to Christian rock star.

Frankenstein said he had about a week to learn all the songs before driving out to meet the guys at their next show to audition. “And I played in that show that same night,” he said.

From there, everything moved quickly.

“In about three days, I had dropped out of college, told my parents I was leaving and hopped in my car and drove to Nashville, (Tenn.). I was only 19,” he said.

Today, Frankenstein (yes, that is his real name) is still the keyboardist for the band. Over the years the band’s lineup has changed as members come and go. Currently, the band’s other members are Jody Davis, Michael Tait and Duncan Phillips.

The band’s newest tour, “Born Again Experience,” shares the name of the band’s last album. The band released “Born Again” in the summer and then in March released “Born Again: Miracles Edition” in anticipation of the tour.

Frankenstein said he’s excited about this tour. “From a production standpoint it’s one of our most ambitious tours,” he said.

What’s so special, Frankenstein said, is the new stage concept for the show, which has what can best be described as floating platforms that lift band members up and out into the crowd. He said the elements gives the show another dimension.

“At one point in the night, three guys are suspended in air, flying out over the crowd,” he said.

Although Frankenstein calls the new elements “awesome,” does that mean he’s not afraid of heights?

“Oh, no, I am,” he said, laughing. “You never really get used to it.”



If you go ..
WHAT: The Newsboys
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9
WHERE: Gateway Ministries, 11017 Kemps Mill Road, Williamsport
COST: $30 to $35
CONTACT: Call 800-861-0850 or go to www.eventtickets.net

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