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Plus One

Plus One

Pop group

For the Record…

Selected discography

Sources

A boy band with a difference, Plus One delivers teen pop with a Christian message. Like the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync, Plus One has achieved remarkable crossover success, scoring hits not only on Christian music charts, but succeeding on the pop charts as well. In 2001 Plus One was awarded Christian music’s highest honor, a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.

The group was formed by Mitchell Solarek, a manager who was unhappy with the overtly sexual trend in boy and girl groups. After meeting Nate Cole at a talent show in California, he decided to recruit him for a new kind of boy group. He then went looking for the rest of the group’s members. Drawn from a talent pool numbering in the thousands, each member of Plus One hails from a different part of the United States. Jeremy Mhire comes from Springfield, Missouri, Gabe Combs, like Cole, is from California, Jason Perry comes from Madison, Indiana, and Nathan Walters was born in Atlanta, Georgia. The name Plus One refers to the members of the group, plus God.

Plus One made their debut with the help of songwriter and producer David Forester. Forester had a long history in the music business, with more than a dozen Grammy Awards to his credit. He was also the head of Atlantic’s Christian music division, 143 Records, which signed the group to a recording contract. For their first release, Plus One also drew on the talents of producers Eric Forest White, Buster & Shavoni, Chris Farren, and Bradley Spalter, all of whom had worked with top artists such as Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Whitney Houston, Brandy, and the Backstreet Boys.

Plus One’s first album, Promise, was released in 2000. It flew off the shelves, selling close to 20,000 copies in its first week, a record for a Contemporary Christian music album. In addition to landing the number-one spot on the Billboard Christian chart, Promise made the Billboard Top 200, holding its own against albums from every other music category.

Tracks on the debut album include, “God Is in This Place,” “The Promise,” and “Soul Tattoo.” The album’s first song, “Written on My Heart,” proved especially popular, landing at the top of the Christian charts. Album sales stayed strong over the months following its release, establishing it as more than simply a flash in the pan.

The album’s popularity may be due in part to its subtle, rather than overt, Christian message. Plus One goes for a softer, more thoughtful approach that the group’s members contend is every bit as effective as any other type of gospel music. As Jeremy Mhire said to Dave Tianen of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “it’s not about how many times you say this or that. It’s about the condition of your heart when you go up on that stage and perform.”

Walters, speaking to Elaine Morgan in the Tampa Tribune, attributed Plus One’s popularity to the great onstage chemistry shared by the group’s members. “Plus One works,” he said, “because we are not just five guys singing next to each other. We’ve worked our socks off from the beginning to connect, to click.” The assessment was echoed by the group’s producer, David Foster, who said that the group’s members had learned that good singers become great when they sing together.

Buoyed by the success of their first album, Plus One members made guest appearances on the prime time television show Touched by an Angel, the soap opera Days of Our Lives, and the talk show Live with Regis and Kelly. They also performed for Vice President Al Gore and at National Basketball Association (NBA) games.

Following the release of Promise, Plus One went on tour to promote the album, sharing the stage with top Christian vocalist Jaci Velazquez. During the tour, which covered 62 cities, the group also completed music videos and laid plans for more concert tours, including one that eventually took them all over Asia. The Asian tour was especially eye-opening for the group’s members, who found that their “soft-core” approach to Christian music had opened doors for them where more traditional Christian music had failed to penetrate. Said Mhire to Tianen in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “For us to take our faith and our music into a lot of countries where you can’t even say Christian on the radio, you know, that was a huge accomplishment.”

For the Record…

Members include Nate Cole (born on May 19, 1981, in Houston, TX), vocals; Gabe Combs (born December 11, 1979, in Salem, OR), vocals; Jeremy Mhire (born on May 3, 1980, in Charlotte, NC), vocals; Jason Perry (born on June 1, 1982, in Ft. Thomas, KY), vocals; Nathan Walters (born on March 24, 1978, in Atlanta, GA), vocals.

Group formed by manager Mitchell Solarek, 2000; released debut album, Promise, on Atlantic, 2000; also on Atlantic, released Obvious and Christmas,2002.

Awards: Gospel Music Association Dove Award, New Artist of the Year, 2001.

Addresses: Business—Plus One, P.O. Box 24967, Nashville, TN 37202. Record company—Atlantic Recording Corp., 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104. Website—Plus One Official Website: http://www.plusoneonline.com.

Returning from the Promise tour, Plus One went back into the studio. Helped once again by some of the top producers in the music business, including Peter Zizzo, Peter Kipley, and Matthew Gerrard, the group recorded songs for a new album, this time including some of their own material, tracks like “Use Me,” “Under the Influence,” “I Don’t Care,” and “Calling Down an Angel.” As Nate Cole explained to Raul A. Flores in the San Antonio Express-News, “When we first started, management controlled everything. With the new album, we were pretty much involved in the whole project—the music, the production, the tour.” A strong beat and guitar riffs defined these new tracks, distinguishing them from the lighter sound of the group’s first recording.

Obvious was released in March of 2002, and sold twice as many copies in its first week of release as Promise had. It hit the number-one spot on the Christian charts immediately. Two of the album’s tracks, “Forever,” and “Camouflage,” became hit singles, occupying spots on the top-ten Christian radio charts simultaneously.

In the fall of 2002 Plus One released a collection of Christmas music in time for the holiday season. In addition their own renditions of “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and other Christmas standards, the album included some original compositions as well, including the opening track, “This Is Christmas,” and “I Won’t Forget This Christmas.”

Plus One has proved that Contemporary Christian music can be as popular as any of that played by more mainstream boy groups. In addition to performing for their group’s recording and touring engagements, Plus One’s members put their faith into practice by volunteering their time and resources to social service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, for which they have helped build homes for those in need.

Selected discography

Promise, Atlantic, 2000.

Christmas, Atlantic, 2002.

Obvious, Atlantic, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, April 16, 2001, p. 6B.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 24, 2000, p. G6.

San Antonio Express-News, May 10, 2002, p. 13H.

Straits Times (Singapore), March 1, 2001, p. L6.

Tampa Tribune, June 10, 2000, p. 2.

Online

“Christmas,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 28, 2003).

“Obvious,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 28, 2003).

“Plus One,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 18, 2003).

“Promise,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (March 28, 2003).

Michael Belfiore

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