Taylor Swift has announced the opening act for the North American leg of her 2011 world tour--and, while we're willing to bet it's not a name you'd come up with off the top of your head, you're sure going to know more about them in a few months.
The lucky band to score the slot is South Carolina-based Needtobreathe, an outfit that actually established itself in the Christian music world before crossing over to pop success. They've won several Dove awards (which are the Christian equivalent of Grammy awards), including one for 2010's group of the year. You may have heard their music on TV or at the movies--their songs have been featured on a variety of shows including the film P.S. I Love You and MTV's hit The Hills.
If you've never heard of Needtobreathe, the band has a warm, guitar-oriented, southern-rock feel to its tunes; and cites U2, Wilco, Tom Petty, and Pearl Jam as influences. Frontman Bear Rinehart's vocal style reminds me a little of Dave Matthews.
The choice of a pop band is a bit out of left field for Swift--her 2009 Fearless tour featured solidly country openers: Kellie Pickler, emerging-at-the-time quartet Gloriana, and Keith Urban (on a few select dates). Nevertheless, her choice seems to stem from simply being a big fan of the band. As she tweeted on Wednesday, "It'll be a nightly challenge to get ready for my show instead of watching theirs."
"It means a lot to us that Taylor handpicked us for her Speak Now tour," Needtobreathe guitarist Bo Rinehart said in a statement. "Everyone knows she has amazing fans, and we thrive on performing live, especially in front of new audiences."
The North American leg of the Speak Now tour will begin May 27 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Well, leaving it up to the fans again. Do you think this band is a good choice to open for what will undoubtedly be one of the biggest tours of 2011? Do you think they mesh well with Taylor's style? Be sure to let me know what you think.