The band was formed by brothers Bear and Bryant "Bo" Rinehart, who were born and raised in rural Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, where their pastor father ran a church camp. After moving to nearby Seneca, the two siblings were exposed to a variety of music and started playing instruments themselves. Several years later, while enrolled at Furman University, Bear -- who was also an award-winning wide receiver -- moonlighted as a vocalist, guitarist, and pianist, even finding time to perform around campus with longtime friend and drummer Joe Stillwell. Meanwhile, Bo studied architecture at Clemson while playing guitar in his spare time. After graduation, both he and bassist Seth Bolt joined the Bear/Stillwell duo to form Needtobreathe.
Since Bolt had received a degree in recording engineering, the band honed their sound while laying down several EPs at Bolt's own Plantation Studios. A strenuous tour of the U.S. Southeast and Midwest followed. The hard work paid off when Needtobreathe came to the attention of Atlantic/Lava Records, which signed the group in 2005. A debut full-length album, Daylight (the cover of which was painted by Bo), arrived one year later, recorded at the British Heliocentric Studios with Keane's producer Andy Green. Tours with Train, Collective Soul, and Will Hoge kept the guys busy throughout the year, and they returned to the studio in December to begin work on their follow-up. The Heat was released in August 2007, and helped establish the band as one of Christian rock's most successful newcomers, spawning several singles and earning two Dove Award nominations while maintaining a crossover audience.
Returning to the studio in 2020, the band set to work on their seventh album. During this time, co-founder Bo Rinehart decided to part ways with the group. Shortly after his announcement, the remaining trio issued the singles "Hang On" and "Who Am I," the latter of which became a Top 30 hit on the U.S. Christian charts. Both tracks appeared on Out of Body (Elektra), which became their third consecutive Christian chart-topper later that August. A second collection of tour performances, Live from the Woods, Vol. 2, arrived in April 2021.
With the group's 2020 tour plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Needtobreathe quarantined at a historic house in rural Tennessee where they began recording. Their subsequent album, Into the Mystery, was released in July 2021 in conjunction with a documentary film of the same name directed by Chris Phelps that captured the recording process. Featuring guest appearances by Carrie Underwood and Switchfoot's Jon Foreman, Into the Mystery became the group's fifth consecutive album to hit number one on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart.
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