Plus One began to take shape as early as 1998, when 18-year-old Sacramento, California-boy
Nate Cole was joined by 21-year-old Gabe Combs of Pittsburgh, California; 22-year-old Nathan
Walters of Lakeland, Florida; and the 19-year-old Jeremy Mhire, who had been engrossed in vocal
studies as a junior on full scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University. In a pattern of chance
and happy accidents, suggesting a bit of destiny at play, Cole and Combs had known each other from
mutual music circles while growing up in Northern California and Nathan had initially heard about the
new group through an acquaintance of Nate’s. The group came to complete fruition with the arrival
of Jason, who, up to that moment, had been focusing on his role as starting fullback and defensive end
for his high school football team. The youngest member of the team, Perry celebrated his 18th
birthday on June 1st and graduated as a member of the Class of 2000 in Madison, Indiana on June
“In some ways we’re very different,” explains Mhire, “but it’s our differences that make us
interesting – as friends and as a group. I’m learning how we each bring something unique to
everything we do, and that it’s the ways we differ that allow us to become something truly special.”
By June of 1999, the guys were living together in a crowded San Francisco apartment, so tight in
fact, that Gabe was forced to sleep in a walk-in closet. Among the many positives that emerged from
the spontaneous bonding that came in the wake of their Real World-styled homemaking was the
discovery that Jason makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich.
The Nashville-based vocal quintet completed sessions for “THE
PROMISE,” their debut 2000 album (and the first joint venture from Atlantic Records’ Christian
Division with the celebrated 143 Records). Less than a year later, the album – fast approaching the
RIAA gold mark – was the best-selling artist project in the year 2000 for the CBA market, as well as
setting a debut week record for most units sold by a new Contemporary Christian artist.
Recorded in locales from New Jersey to Los Angeles to San Francisco, Boston to Santa
Monica and Nashville, “THE PROMISE” saw the quintet working in the studio with 143 chief David
Foster. In addition to his keyboard contributions, the 14-time Grammy Award-winning producer
helmed sessions for the rich, flamenco-flavored “God Is In This Place,” the heartfelt, tender “The
Promise,” and the stirring “My Friend,” in addition to co-producing the soaring “Last Flight Out.”
“These guys really hear each other, really listen to each other when they sing,” says Foster,
who signed the group to his 143 label nearly straight away after first introductions. “Individually,
they’re all incredibly talented, but they’ve learned that as vocalists, they’re even better together.
There’s wisdom there.”
Additional sessions found Plus One paired with such top studio talents as Rodney Jerkins (Whitney
Houston, Brandy, Brian McKnight) & Harvey Mason, Jr. (son of the famed Fourplay drummer and
solo artist), Buster & Shavoni (Kirk Franklin), Chris Farren (Deana Carter, Kevin Sharp), Reed
Verteiney (Luther Vandross), noted solo artist and producer Robbie Nevil (Jessica Simpson), renowned producer/songwriter Eric Foster White
(Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Jessica Simpson), and accomplished songwriter Stephanie Lewis.
“I knew making this record would be hard work,” says Combs. “As we got into this, we realized that
what we were doing – what we had been called together to do – would take everything we had.”
Throughout “THE PROMISE,” the guys touch on topics of friendship, love, and their faith in
God through such tracks as the dynamic, rhythmic “My Life,” warm, melodic “Soul Tattoo,” and
the high-flying #1 CCM singles “God Is In This Place” and “Written On My Heart.” The album also
reveals the promise of a fast-emerging artistic collective with the songwriting contributions of Walters,
Combs, and Cole on the cool, R&B fueled “Be.”
The combination of elements proved their power straight away, with “THE PROMISE”
debuting last May at #1 on the Soundscan Christian music chart, coming in with a record new artist
sales tally and coinciding with a #76 entry on the Billboard 200. The single, “Written On My Heart,”
kept the success rolling with remarkable #1 runs at Christian CHR and AC outlets – not to mention
the song’s companion video scoring #1 most-requested status on the Disney Channel. “Last Flight
Out,” the group’s first single serviced to mainstream radio outlets, helped introduce the music of Plus
One to a wide new audience, hitting top 5 at Radio Disney in the process – in addition to #1 requests
at Disney TV and a popular reception at Nickelodeon for the track’s companion video.
Plus One’s success has not come without recognition. In fact, the group was nominated for
five 2000 Dove Awards, including New Artist of The Year and Group of The Year, along with a
Pop/Contemporary Album of The Year nomination for “THE PROMISE,” and they walked away with the New Artist of the Year award for 2001.
The summer of 2000 continued to supply moments for the highlights reel, notably their
contribution of the previously unreleased “With All Your Heart” to Atlantic’s hit Pokémon 2000 The
Power of One soundtrack and a small-screen cameo on the ever-sudsy Days Of Our Lives. The year
also included appearances on such top television programs as Zoog Disney, Access Hollywood, and
Nickelodeon Slime Time Live, in addition to a feature story on CNN’s Showbiz Today. On Christmas
Eve, the boys performed a unique duet version of “Grown Up Christmas List” with the
multi-platinum-selling Monica on ABC-TV’s ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas holiday special –
which also included such guest as 98º and Jessica Simpson.
In other news, Plus One can now be heard singing “Written On My Heart” on the RIAA
platinum-certified “WOW 2001” top Christian hits compilation and “I Need A Miracle” on the
soundtrack to the new major motion picture, Left Behind (based on the best-selling novel by Tim F.
LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins). This February, the quintet pack their bags for a nearly month-long
Southeast Asian promotional tour, with dates in the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
This spring, Plus One was featured – along with a host of Atlantic Group labelmates – on
Teensation: A Pop Music Experience. Taped before a high-energy audience of 3,000 at Hard
Rock Live in Orlando, Florida, the concert was packaged into two distinct live music specials,
airing on cable television in March. The programs coincided with the launch of the group’s
most extensive and highly anticipated nationwide tour to date – and first full North American
itinerary since opening for the renowned Jaci Velasquez last fall.
Unfailingly, the constant flood of kudos and good news continues to generate new heat at the
already hit-heavy www.plusoneonline.com official website. Of course, this adds up to long nights of
typing e-mail responses to fans – but none of the five are complaining!
Early last year, Plus One launched a
North American promotional tour with a performance at Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania, a
trek that included an array of in-store appearances and a concert at Nashville’s historic Ryman
Auditorium. After initially gathering in ’99 to begin the San Francisco sessions, the guys began
volunteering at the St. Joseph’s Village, a shelter for homeless families. Their dedication to service
continued that fall when Plus One forged an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity by
participating in a week-long, 20-house building blitz in historic Selma, Alabama, where they worked side-by-side with veterans of that city’s civil rights movement.
“That experience put some things in perspective for us,” says Nate. “Seeing that kind of need
right here in America and being able to make a personal contribution experiencing how we could
help-that was amazing.” “Working next to people who worked with Dr. King, people who sacrificed
so much… it was overwhelming,” adds Gabe.
“That’s really what Plus One is about,” adds Nate. “The ‘One’ in our name is about more
than just us, more than anyone we’ve worked with. It’s about the fact that we’re never alone. We
have each other and we have God. Anyone who takes a look at anything we do, be it our music or
the way we live or lives, can understand what that’s all about. And I’m so happy to be able to share
this experience with these guys.”
You can share the experience with Plus One on May 29 at the grand Ole Opry House in Nashville at 7:30 PM.For more information on the Nashville date call 615/248-0800. To order tickets by phone, call 615/255-9600. Tickets available at all Ticketmaster locations.
Plus One will also be in Chattanooga on May 17 at Memorial Auditorium at 7:30pm. Call 423/899-7402 for info.
Read Plus One Interview
See story on their successful tour atPlus One tour
Read 2001: The Year of the Christian Boy Band
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