SpiritSong Fest: Kings Island’s eclectic Christian music event returns

The festival includes headliners TobyMac, Crowder and Skillet and runs June 15-17.



Like many major public events, the SpiritSong Festival at Kings Island in Mason was sidelined for several years by COVID-19. However, the annual Christian music festival is back Thursday through Saturday and stronger than ever with headliners TobyMac, Crowder, Skillet, plus Newsboys, Katy Nichole, LeCrae and other acts.

“We did the festival for many years but because of COVID it’s probably been five or six years since we’ve done it,” said Newsboys keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein. “It has always been a great festival. It’s pretty special because that’s a theme park I used to go to as a kid. It was always a summer destination, so I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the stage. Those kind of summer events are super fun. Everyone is in a good mood and having a nice time. We’re looking forward to it.

“I feel like this is the first summer where COVID really isn’t on people’s minds anymore and they can relax and enjoy this time again,” the Michigan native continued. “Being a band that tours as much as we have for the last 30 years, when the entire touring industry got shut down for the better part of two years, it was an interesting time for all of us. We had never lived a year where we had been home for an entire year.”

Single minded

Newsboys, which formed in Australia in 1985, has been based in Nashville since the late 1980s. The group used the unprecedented time off the road to write and record new music.

“The plan is to just keep releasing singles, which we’ve been doing every couple of months,” said Frankenstein, who will celebrate 30 years with the group in January. “Instead of spending two years to do an album and that whole cycle that we’ve been used to for so long, it’s more like giving the fans new music every couple of months and they seem to really enjoy that more. That seems to be the way it’s going.”

Newsboys has received more than 30 Dove Award nominations during its lengthy career and four Grammy nominations. The group’s 20th album, “Stand,” was released October 2021. The latest single, “He Lives,” was released March 31.

“We wrote so much during lockdown and now the music is starting to trickle out from all those months,” Frankenstein said. “We’re still super busy writing and recording. That never stops. I don’t know if there will ever be a record release and then 18 months of touring after it. It’ll be more of a slower release with singles and then we’ll compile all of that into a record.”



Swift success

Katy Nichole, making her first appearance at SpiritSong, has also been in a productive mode since her self-titled debut EP was released in June 2022. “Jesus Changed My Life,” the Dove Award-nominee’s full-length follow-up, was released in February. Two singles from the album, “In Jesus Name (God of Possible)” and “God Is in This Story,” both hit number one on Billboard’s U.S. Christian Songs chart.

“It’s something I’m incredibly grateful for,” Nichole said. “Last year was my biggest tour year. In total, I was on four tours, and I did hundreds of shows besides that. I’ve seen God kind of put puzzle pieces together and it’s creating this incredibly beautiful picture. It’s things that only God can do. I was out on the CAIN tour and that was a good experience. I love those people. They’re amazing humans and they’re fun to be around out on the road.

“There is also a lot going on behind the scenes but playing shows is definitely my main focus,” the Illinois native continued. “Getting slots on tours is such an honor so I’m grateful for that. There is also music being created. People will be seeing some music in the not too distant future. I can’t be too specific but there are a few more songs on the way.”



Diverse bill

SpiritSong, Kings Islands’ Timberwolf Amphitheater, began in 1993. The annual festival brings in some of the biggest, most established acts in contemporary Christian music and then mixes in talented rising acts like Nichole. It gives audiences a true glimpse of the genre today, which is very broad and eclectic.

“Yeah, I love that,” Nichole said. “It’s so cool to get to be around people I’ve always looked up to. It’s just an honor to be able to share the stage and also share one goal, to praise Jesus. We get to come together as one and praise our God and that’s such a cool thing. I’ve crossed paths with so many people on this bill. I’ve seen them perform. They’re all really wonderful and all have incredible performance abilities and ways of leading people to Jesus in their songs.

“They weren’t messing around when they brought in the people they did for this show,” Nichole continued. “I’m super excited I get to come perform and hangout. We get to ride rollercoasters and have a good day and praise Jesus in the midst of it.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.


What: SpiritSong Festival with headliners TobyMac, Crowder, Skillet, plus Newsboys, CAIN, Katy Nichol and others

Where: Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Dr., Mason

When: Thursday-Saturday, June 15-17

Cost: $45-$165

More info: www.spiritsongfest.com

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