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Uplifting news coming to Niswonger

Christian rockers Newsboys visiting Van Wert venue

Contemporary Christian band Newsboys will swing by Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert on March 4.

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published March 1, 2023

Newsboys have been speaking the word of God nearly 40 years. They have produced 20 albums, six of which were certified gold. They’ve had dozens of Top 10 Christian singles and inspired one of the most popular Christian movies series in history. 

A legitimate pillar of the contemporary Christian music scene, Grammy-nominated Newsboys stop by the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert on March 4 for an intimate performance in one of this area’s premier venues. 

Audience continues to grow

Newsboys have not merely endured nearly four decades in an ever-changing music industry. They have continued to thrive despite lineup changes, including three different frontmen. The Aussies’ simple formula of focusing on God and the music allows them to keep churning out hits, with 33 of them already reaching No. 1, according to CCM Magazine.

One of those hits, “God’s Not Dead,” propelled the group to a new level as a movie based on the song was released in 2014. God’s Not Dead, starring Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain, became the biggest independent movie that year, spawning two sequels. 

With the added attention the movie shined on their music, Newsboys’ audience expanded seemingly exponentially, making every show a “must-see event” and a multi-generational experience as people from all walks of life discovered their music. 

“We have all ages,” singer Michael Tait told Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater in a 2018  interview during the Newsboys United Tour a few years ago. “We have 5-year-olds singing ‘God’s Not Dead,’ (all the way up) to 70-year-olds. A lot of them have ear plugs in, but they’re still there.”

Acts eyeing Niswonger

Booking an act as prestigious as Newsboys to a show in Van Wert, with a population of about 11,000, might seem abnormal, but Tafi Stober, Niswonger’s executive director, said people come from all over to see shows like this because the demand for Christian music in the area is large. 

Booking this particular band was something Stober didn’t hesitate to do when given the opportunity because Newsboys are proven and she knows people will come. 

“Newsboys are such a dynamic group,” she said, because they appeal to a wide variety of music fans, even beyond the Christian audience. “When they played our house back in 2016, they filled our stage with so much energy and were very enthusiastic. We have a 1,200-seat theater. This is a band that plays arenas, so the opportunity to get a band like this in our small house is outrageous.”

Adopting a dynamic programming calendar, instead of creating a season of shows, has added many opportunities for Niswonger to book bigger names who might have open dates between visits to larger cities. 

Several popular artists are already on the schedule for this year including Air Supply on March 3, Sister Hazel on April 1, and Gaither Vocal Band on April 23. 

“We just announced LeAnn Rimes for May 7, too,” Stober said. “We can pick up these unique opportunities because we developed relationships with agents and are top of mind when they are routing. I can get a call from an agent at any time who says, ‘Hey, we are routing and have this date. Can you take it?’ If it works on our calendar, we’ll take it. Sometimes that gives us some cost efficiencies, too, so we can keep our ticket prices at a level that makes sense.”

For those who have never been to Niswonger, rest assured you will not be disappointed. 

“There’s a great ambiance in the house,” Stober said. “What we hear the most is that people feel welcome. It’s a warm environment, parking is free with easy in and easy out, and it’s an intimate setting. Also, we are a nonprofit, so when people support a concert here, they are also supporting access to the arts for the region, which is important to us.”

Evolving sound

Newsboys make their way to Van Wert in support of their newest album, Stand, their 20th and the seventh by “Version 2.0,” an unofficial moniker the band adopted when Tait, formerly of DC Talk, became their lead vocalist. 

Stand continues the band’s evolution, seeing them experiment with styles and sounds, a strategy that is purposeful and important. 

“Your musical tastes change all the time,” drummer Duncan Phillips recently told The Tennessean. “The record that we have done is a record we probably wouldn’t have done five years ago, because we weren’t there musically yet … We’ve been around for a minute, and we do love all these different types of music. If it’s good, it’s good.”

When they take the stage March 4, expect a night full of hits, new and old, in a setting that you will absolutely love. With so many songs to choose from, you are virtually guaranteed a night full of sing-alongs that also come with a positive message. 

“They are so uplifting, and that’s what people are looking for,” Stober said. “They want to go to something where they are going to leave feeling better, and the Newsboys do that.” 


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