This inter-racial trio have cultivated a large and diverse audience in the USA through their sophisticated and adept blend of pop, soul and hip-hop. Primarily orientated towards the gospel/Christian market, they became one of that genres most popular acts in the 90s. They originally comprised Michael Tait and Toby McKeehan (Kevin Michael McKeehan, 22 October 1964, USA), who formed the band while at college in Washington, DC. They were soon joined by Kevin Smith from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The name was alternatively stated to express either DC referring to the area of their origin or Decent Christian talk. Using street poetry as their central mode of communication, their second album was Nu Thang, a title that accurately reflected the Christian pop/hip-hop style of its contents. More declamatory was the follow-up, Free At Last, which included cover versions of Jesus Is Just Alright and Lean On Me, alongside the trios original compositions. It was still a fixture on Billboards Contemporary Christian chart at the end of 1995, having sold over a million copies.
In the three years before the trio entered the studio again each member concentrated on solo activities - Smith writing a poetry book, McKeehan launching Gotee Records and Tait concentrating on songwriting. Released in December 1995, Jesus Freak took their Christian concerns into alternative pop/rock territory. Most impressive was the title track, an unashamed declaration of personal commitment set against dense guitar riffs. It saw them cited in Billboard as Christian musics most innovative and accomplished group. Though the music was now as secular as it had ever been, the trios gospel background was still much in evidence. With record sales of 85, 000 copies in its first week of release, the album went on to sell over one million copies. It was followed by a powerful live album and 1998s Supernatural, on which the trio smoothed out their sound to great effect, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart in October.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.