By Liz Youngs
If you are not yet familiar with the South Carolina rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE, you should be. The sounds emanating from their instruments, the powerhouse vocals from lead singer Bear Rinehart, the sensational harmony from the band members – has led them to a GRAMMY nomination, an album, H A R D L O V E, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Albums chart, and on numerous cross-country tours that have sold out the likes of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, The Greek (Los Angeles) and the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
This special, incredibly talented group is comprised of brothers Bo (guitar, vocals) and Bear Rinehart (vocals, guitar) and Seth Bolt (bass, vocals), all of South Carolina, and Josh Lovelace (keys, vocals) of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Last week, the band performed for a sold-out audience of well over 400 people for the 6th Annual NEEDTOBREATHE Classic, a Lowcountry charity golf event launched in 2007 by Britt Gilbert, President/CEO ofCommonwealth Financial Group on Daniel Island. This year’s event raised over $200,000 for OneWorld Health’s work in Nicaragua and Uganda through ticket sales, donations and a silent auction. OneWorld Health helps to provide sustainable medical centers in Uganda and Nicaragua, and to date have opened 10 facilities helping serve 8,000 patients per month.
NEEDTOBREATHE began their partnership with the golf tournament in 2013, and the rest is history. Pulling in athletes, actors, musicians and people across the globe wanting to contribute to a good cause, the event has continued to grow, and gain national attention.
According to Gilbert, “This event is for a good cause and the focus is to give back. None of the celebrities are paid, they come to support OneWorld Health, play some golf, meet up with friends, but the overall goal is to give back.”
In addition to a special performance by NEEDTOBREATHE, attendees were also treated to performances by guest celebrities including three-time GRAMMY-winner TobyMac, five-time GRAMMY-nominated Hunter Hayes who performed and collaborated with breakout country artist Devin Dawson, country artist David Nail, and John Mark McMillan and Jon McLaughlin, who are friends of NEEDTOBREATHE.
NEEDTOBREATHE has raised over $1 million for the organization since their partnership began and have traveled to Tola and Jinotega, Nicaragua for the openings of both NEEDTOBREATHE Medical Centers.
I sat down with Bear Rinehart, lead singer and songwriter, to find out more about the group. I was initially curious as to where the name NEEDTOBREATHE came from --the answer I received is a clear indication of the humility, foundation and wisdom of this special group.
“It started with the story from Socrates, when during one of his many teachings, he took a man to water and put him under so many times until the man said, ‘I need air’ – ‘I need to breathe,’” Rinehart said.
The story tells the tale of a pompous young man asking Socrates for wisdom – the lesson speaks for itself. After pushing the man’s head under water several times, asking each time, “What do you want?” – the man finally said, “I need air” – thus, the moral of the story – Wisdom is as important to life as air is to a drowning man.
And so you can see, there was clear purpose and intent to naming the band. Needing to breathe is what we all have to do. We have to let the air in, slow down, listen to ourselves. And listen to the music of life. Therein lies the wisdom. And NEEDTOBREATHE gets it.
Just a few minutes with Bear and you can see, he has a message to share. He sits easily, ready to share whatever he can about himself, the band, their struggles and their journey. There is a drive deep within him that is palpable from across the table. He is so humble and sincere, yet driven and determined. It does not escape one that he is both introspective and wanting to talk. He’s careful yet open. There is incredible focus and care with each answer.
When asked about the song, “Happiness” and the line, “In my dreams I know I am not made for the simple life” – he sort of brushes it off, but agrees – yes, there is a destiny that he – they, the band – have to fulfill – perhaps a calling. But he’s quick to downplay it. “We want to be honest and share our story, play music that is personal. We write from our own stories and let people in. If it makes someone else feel better, we’re all for that.”
They are not made for the simple life; they are made to take people on a journey with them, through their storytelling and inspirational lyrics. And they are right in the middle of the journey.
NEEDTOBREATHE has truly broken the musical mold and are pushing boundaries. On Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions), the forthcoming collection of songs set to release July 13, the band strayed from their usual hometown recording studio to produce four unique tracks at Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas.
The band will kick off their headlining Forever On Your Side Tour on August 10 in New Braunfels, Texas– taking them across the U.S., through Colorado, Nashville and more – with a final stop here at Daniel Island on Oct. 7 at the Volvo Car Stadium.
To close out the night, NEEDTOBREATHE asked the crowd to quiet down while they played an acoustic performance of their Grammy-nominated song “Brother,” a heartfelt and emotional song about the familial bond between the Rinehart brothers; Bo wrote the lyrics for brother Bear, after a long disagreement. The lyrics will bring you to tears. All four band members stood shoulder to shoulder, and in perfect harmony sang: “Brother let me be your shelter/Never leave you all alone/I can be the one you call/When you’re low/Brother let me be your fortress/When the night winds are driving on/Be the one to light the way/Bring you home.”
We are fortunate that Charleston holds such a special place in the hearts of NEEDTOBREATHE.