Christian rock group Third Day proved that it deserves the attention of fans and critics after sweeping the Dove Awards in 2001. The group garnered five awards, including wins for Artist of the Year and Group of the Year. The band released the praise and worship album Offerings: A Worship Album in 2000, and the same year contributed to a collaborative effort, City on a Hill: Songs of Worship and Praise. Consistently ranked among the top ten Contemporary Christian artists, Third Day combines an uncompromising evangelism with a dedication to Southern-influenced rock.
The founding members of Third Day—guitarist Mark Lee and singer/guitarist Mac Powell—have been performing together since high school. The two played in a garage band called Nuclear Hoedown in their hometown of Marietta, Georgia, but Powell soon quit the band because he didn’t feel it was what God wanted him to do. Lee contacted Powell after a few weeks to convince him to help create a Christian band, and the two began writing songs that reflected their commitment to Christianity. Joined by a keyboardist, the fledgling group called themselves Third Day to honor the third day after Jesus’ death, the day of his resurrection. The group was originally acoustic and performed
Members include Tai Anderson (born on June 11, 1976), bass; Brad Avery (born on August 20, 1971; joined group, 1995), guitar; David Carr (born on November 15, 1974), drums; Mark Lee (born on May 29, 1973), guitar; Mac Powell (born on December 25, 1972), vocals, guitar.
Formed group in Marietta, GA, 1992; signed with gray dot records, released debut album, Third Day;, 1995; signed with Reunion Records, re-released debut, 1996; released Conspiracy No. 5, 1991; signed with Essential Records, 1999; released Time, 1999; released Offerings: A Worship Album, 2000.
Awards: Dove Awards, Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Rock Recorded Song of the Year for “Sky Falls Down,” Praise & Worship Album of the Year for Offerings: A Worship Album, Special Event Album of the Year (with others) for City on a Hill: Songs of Worship and Praise, all 2001.
Addresses: Record company —Essential Records, 741 Cool Springs Blvd., Franklin, TN 37067, website: http://www.essentialrecords.com. Booking —Creative Artists Agency, phone: (615) 383-787, fax: (615) 383-4937. Management —Creative Trust Management, phone: (615) 297-5010, fax: (615) 297-5020. Website —Third Day Official Website: http://www.thirdday.com.
at Sunday schools and for youth groups. In 1992, a pastor introduced Lee and Powell to bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr. The four met lead guitarist Brad Avery in 1995, and the roster was set. The five members were all in their early- to mid-twenties and dedicated to producing Christian rock.
Third Day worked early on to build regional support, playing shows on the Southern live performance circuit. They became known for their high-energy performances and developed a loyal fan base. Dan Raines, head of Creative Trust, the group’s management firm, told Deborah Evans Price of Billboard, “Before they even had a deal, they had been out there working, playing every dive you can imagine, building an audience at the grass-roots level.” The early work paid off, and in 1995, the group signed with local independent label gray dot records and released its first album, titled simply Third Day. The band’s release was the first for the small label, and demand for the album quickly outstripped gray dot’s ability to supply. Third Day then signed on with Arista’s Reunion label, quickly recorded two additional songs, and re-released the debut album.
The major label release of the group’s debut produced a mainstream hit,” Nothing At All,” which made the top 30 on pop charts. A video for another song from the album,” Consuming Fire,” won the Billboard Music Video Award in the Contemporary Christian category in 1996. The record also won prime touring spots for the band. They opened for groups such as the Prayer Chain, the Waiting, and Code of Ethics. The group also played at Atlanta Fest, a Christian music festival in their home state.
Third Day’s sound continues to evolve, but core influences include U2 and Lynryd Skynyrd. The group’s early recording was described by Susan Hogan-Albach in the Minneapolis Star Tribune as “Southern folk rock, tinged with pop, blues, bluegrass and country offset by Powell’s throaty vocals.” The band was compared to Hootie and the Blowfish, the Gin Blossoms, and frequently to Pearl Jam. With their second album, Third Day played up grunge rock influences. Hogan-Albach noted that Conspiracy No. 5, released in 1997 by Reunion, was characterized by “metal-driven aggression … rife with chunky percussions and electric guitars.”
Even as the band grew and changed its sound, Third Day remained committed to the original focus of the project: Christian evangelism. The group’s songs consistently convey a message of faith, and Third Day never gives in to the temptation to write secular lyrics in the hopes of achieving crossover success. Carr told Jim Varsallone of the Tampa Tribune, “We’ve won awards and had top songs … but that’s not our focus…. The focus is on Christ.” The group’s focus is maintained even on the road; Third Day travels with John Poitevent, a pastor who prays with the men before and after shows, leads them in Bible study, and counsels the musicians and crew while on tour.
The 1999 release Time was hailed by critics as Third Day’s best album to date. This recording, too, explores new directions for the band musically. Paul Verna noted in Billboard that the band embraces “an earthier, looser sound that delves more deeply into its Southern roots.” Powell also expressed Third Day’s positive feelings about the recording, telling Jim Minge of the Omaha World Herald that the album was the best the band had yet produced, and noted,” we’re a bit better musically and lyrically, too.”
The year 2000 held other milestones for the band. Third Day’s new label, Essential Records, specializes in marketing Contemporary Christian acts, and the band was invited to collaborate on a special album called City on a Hill: Songs of Worship and Praise. Third Day recorded the title track, and members of the band collaborated with other Christian rockers on several additional songs. Other leading artists on the album include Sixpence None the Richer, Caedmon’s Call, FFH, and Jars of Clay. Third Day also released their own praise and worship album in 2000 called Offerings: A Worship Album. The album marked a change in the way the band worked; it contains several songs recorded live on tour, as well as additional studio recordings. Included on the album are “Thief,” the story of the two other men crucified with Jesus, and “King of Kings,” about the impossibility of knowing God. Third Day released a “worship kit” to complement the album; containing lyrics, chords, and transparencies, the kit is intended to help youth groups and ministers use the album as part of worship.
Offerings proved to be another hit with critics as well as with audiences. The album went gold after just a few months and collected not only a Dove Award for Praise & Worship Album of the Year in 2001, but also a Grammy Award nomination. Deborah Evans Price of Billboard had nothing but the highest praise for Offerings, saying that the album “teems with passion and spiritual commitment.” Price further noted that the release includes “beautiful praise and worship songs as well as tunes that stretch the boundaries of worship music in a wonderful way.”
As rising stars in one of the fastest growing segments of popular music in the United States, Third Day is poised for even greater success. While playing AtlantaFest in 1996 was a breakthrough for the band, headlining the four-day festival in 2001 marked an even greater level of success for Third Day. That success, Anderson told John Blake of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, has brought new challenges: “It’s an interesting place to be…. It’s easier to sit back and kind of pick out the problems of Christian music as an underdog. Now that we’re successful, we are Christian music, and it’s up to us to raise the bar.”
Third Day (includes “Nothing At All” and “Consuming Fire”), gray dot, 1995; reissued, Reunion, 1996.
Conspiracy No. 5, Reunion/Silver, 1997.
Time, Essential, 1999.
(Contributor) City on a Hill Songs of Worship and Praise, Essential, 2000.
Offerings: A Worship Album, Essential, 2000.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, June 22, 2001, p. 3P.
Billboard, March 29, 1997, p. 9–10; September 11, 1999, p. 47; August 12, 2000, p. 40; September 30, 2000, p. 26; May 5, 2001, p. 108.
Omaha World Herald, March 19, 2000, p. 3.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), October 11, 1997, p. 7B.
Tampa Tribune, November 7, 1998, p. 6.
Toronto Star, July 4, 1998, p. L10.
USA Today, August 22, 2000, p. D5; April 30, 2001, p. D1.
Dove Awards, http://www.doveawards.com (July 27, 2001).
“Third Day,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (July 10, 2001).
“Third Day,” Essential Records, http://www.essentialrecords.com (July 10, 2001).
“Third Day,” gray dot records, http://www.graydot.com (July 10, 2001).
“Third Day,” Listen.com, http://www.listen.com (July 10, 2001).
Third Day Official Website, http://www.thirdday.com (July 10, 2001).
"Third Day." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 23, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/third-day
"Third Day." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved March 23, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/third-day
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