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Flashback: Dave Hollister's life-saving testimony

buzzz worthy. . .

By Mona Austin

Since it's Black Music Month, I've pulled out a previously published exclusive interview that
shows a singer's rare, total  transition from R&B to Gospel.

Dave Hollister, an ex- R&B singer is now  a gospel artist who vows
there is no turning back to the music of his past.  Currently Hollister sings with the United Tenors, a group made up of Fred Hammond, Brian Courtney Wilson and Eric Roberson.

The interview is 100% uncut as the artist bears all the details about a brush with death that re-directed his life's path.

The twists and turns in his testimony awe-inspiring.

  Two weeks in advance of "The Book of David: Vol. 1 The 
Transition," his first gospel recording, former Blackstreet member Dave 
Hollister talks about the transition to gospel.   

      After years of dodging his calling and encountering one negative 
experience after the other, Dave resolved to completely surrender to 

      In Part 1 of a very candid interview Hollister reveals why singing 
R&B ever again would be a death wish and relives the near tragic 
car accident that provoked sudden transformation in his life: 

Mona Austin (MA): Give us some background on who Dave Hollister is.

Dave Hollister: I was with Blackstreet and after the first album I 
started my solo career. It's funny that my boy Tupac got killed 
yesterday and it's been ten years. The day that he dies I was mixing my 
first solo album, "Ghetto Hymns." When I found out he died I went back 
into the studio and did a re-make of Twinkie Clark's "Now Unto Him" for 
that reason.

DH: I was still in the studio and I went back into the studio and did a 
remake of Twinkie Clarks "Now Unto Him".

MA: I didn't realize you'd already sand gospel.   

DH: Yeah. Just for that reason. And it was the last song on the 
album, on my R&B album. That was 10 years ago yesterday.

MA: So you've gone from singing Ghetto Hymns to church hymns?

DH: Yes definitely. ( Laughing). I had a 10 year R&B career which was 
very, very good to me, but towards the end of that about two years ago, 
I started to, ah, you know just kinda feelin' empty. And I was missing 
something. There was a void there. I mean I had everything you know 
but my marriage had failed after 14 years.

MA: Were their any children as a result of your marriage?

DH: Yeah, we had two boys.

MA: I'm sorry to hear that.

DH: God is a healer. He helped me out. He definitely healed and 
restored me from the situation. Now my boys are still out in L.A. Once 
we divorced, I left L.A. 

MA: So are they teenagers?

DH:Yes, my oldest is 14.

MA: Is he Dave Jr.?

DH: No. I don't have any juniors. I don't really like the junior 
thing ... My youngest boy will be 11 on December 21, which is my heart. 
I mean I love my oldest son, but I was there during the whole process 
with my youngest son. With my oldest son, I was on the road when he was 
born. Pretty much most of that time I was on the road.

DH: You know that was a pretty rough and trying time for me. 

MA: Yes, but I wanted to recap the details of your accident. 

DH: Well, I was driving down the Topanga Canyon in L.A. which everybody 
would know what that is. I was driving down Topanga Canyon and I was 
very drunk and I had consumed a half of an eighth ounce of cocaine…half 
of an eighth ounce of cocaine. So I was a little discombobulated. I 
was trying to operate a vehicle at the time.

MA: What were you driving?

DH: A GMC Envoy and it was a rental from Enterprise. And the wheel, 
the car kind of got away from me on one of the shaper turns. The car 
got away from me and it did from what I remember three 360 spins and at 
the end of the third spin it flipped over three times. And then at the 
end of that third time, I believe it was the third time it landed on all 
fours and slammed into the railing on the other side of the canyon which 
made the car tilt over and I was leaning over…

MA: So it was almost suspended?

DH: Yes. The only thing that was holding it up was basically God but 
the railing that was there. If I would have made one little move that 
thing would have tipped over and went over. It's almost like it was 
basically God was holding that truck up. 

MA: Did you literally stare death in the face?

DH: Definitely! And it was so crazy Mona only because all the time the 
car was spinning and flipping all I heard was "I AM GOD, I AM GOD, I AM 

MA: (Gasping) 

DH: And I just -- that's all I could hear was that.

MA: And you walked away from this without a scratch. I mean did you hit 
your head, did anything happen to you physically?

DH: Yeah, the only thing that happened to me physically was that I hit 
my nose on the steering wheel and my nose bled onto my T-shirt I had 
on. But I did not realize that until I was out of the car and walking 
down the canyon. I didn't realize that I as bleeding because I didn't 
feel anything and I didn't see much. All I knew was what the car was 
doing and I knew what the car was doing and I just heard God's voice 
saying "I AM GOD, I AM GOD." All I could say was "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" 
that's all I could say. And after that I crawled…God allowed me to 
crawl out of the other side. If I can give you a picture of it…the car 
was actually laying, the side that I was driving was the side that the 
car was tipped on. So I had to crawl up and out of the passenger side 
to get out of the car.

MA: So it didn't move obviously and you were able to get to safety. 
How far did you have to walk to safety?

DH: Actually, I had to walk down the rest of the canyon which had to be 
at least another mile. Maybe. 

MA: And where did you find assistance?

DH: At the end of the canyon…when I got almost to the end of the canyon 
there were cars and people stopping. You know, they were stopping and 
asking me "Was I okay, was I okay"? And I was like "Yeah, I'm okay, I'm 
okay, I'm okay". And then I got away now. The reason I kept walking 
and doing that was because I had already had two DUI's. I was on 
probation for two DUI's and then I already had a drug charge that I was 
on probation for. So, if I got caught anymore then I would have went in 
jail for 5 or 6 years at least.

MA: Because of the three strike rule?

DH: Basically. 

MA: How did you avoid that happening?

DH: I just kept walking. When people were calling me and asking me 
questions, I just kept walking.

MA: I mean but after the entire ordeal was over…go ahead and finish 
your story.

DH: Well, the police never found me. They never found me. The thing 
of it was I kept walking and people kept coming past. It was a bunch of 
white people: "Do you need a cell phone? Do you need such and such? Do 
you need this?" No I don't need anything. You know what I am saying. 
Just let me walk and then I heard an ambulance or a fire truck or 
something like that and out of nowhere this black guy came and 
I…sometimes I still say he a was an angel because he came out of nowhere 
with the car and asked me if I needed help. Do I need a ride somewhere? 
He was the person that I took after about at least 10 people, he was 
the person that I took.   Everybody else was white except for this guy; 
he was a black guy…a young black guy with braids. I don't remember his 
name. I don't even remember too much of what he looked like, but he 
asked me did I want to go somewhere and I said "Yeah, I'm on my way to 
Malibu Inn." He said "Well come on because I know you don't want to get 
caught out here with this car and you smell like you've been drinking 
and such." I said "Yeah." So he took me too Malibu Inn. 

Once I got to the Malibu Inn, he came in with me. I had on a sweatsuit 
and the blood was on the t-shirt and I just zipped the jacket up so that 
they couldn't see my shirt was bleeding. And my normal ritual every 
week would be to come in, the manager of the band would be standing by 
the door waiting for me to get in with a smith of Hennessy. You know 
like a triple shot of Hennessy. A glass of smith filled up and he would 
hand it to me and I would take it and walk toward the stage. And once I 
stepped on the stage they would start my intro music up and then we 
would go into my performance of the evening. And it was basically an 
open mike night and I was the host and we used to call it church and I 
was the bishop. That's what the people that came there gave me that 
name; they gave me the name bishop and the whole night was called 

MA: Did you ever feel uncomfortable drinking under the circumstances 
since people called it 'church' ?

DH: It wasn't actually church.

MA: I know but even with the connotation?

DH: No, because you know people they've been calling me that basically 
all of my life, so it was…even in R&B it was "Bishop, how you feel 
doctor?" You know what I'm saying, even Mary J; everybody used to call 
me Bishop Dave Hollister.

MA: Is that because they knew your upbringing with your parents in the 

DH: No. It was basically because they would tell me every time I would 
open my mouth on stage, I would sound like a bishop or I would make 
everything sound like it was a church song. I had the same the same 
intensity and the same fire as somebody in church. My shows were like 
church services and it wasn't the fact that I would say church things; 
it was just how it would come across. And you know the delivery and 
everything… because it is in me and that's where I came from and I'm a 
son of two pastors. So I guess it was just on me.   But it didn't 
bother me at the time but this night I came in. I walked past (the guy 
was with me) and I walked past the Smith and Hennessy and he was like 
"Bishop, you all right, you all right?" I never said nothing I just 
walked straight up to the stage went to the middle of the stage where 
the mike was and I just looked at people, and they were all excited 
because I was finally there because I was late first of all. They were 
excited that I was finally there and I just looked and I just sung 
ummm…What was the, I always forget the song because Smokie Norful's "I 
Need You Now" always comes to mind when I'm telling it. But "I Need 
Thee, O I Need Thee" was the only thing I could sing … and the musicians 
were from Chicago. We all grew up together and they were from church so 
they knew once I started they went straight to it. And the people were 
in the audience looking like "What is he doing?" You know what I mean 
because my opening song is normally Marvin Gaye (singing) "O mark us 
over been in long the have nots…"

MA: "Makes Me Wanna Holla"

DH: Yeah, "Make Me Wanna Holla" that's usually was my opening song but 
I stopped them and I just stood in the middle of the stage and started 
singing "I Need Thee, O I Need Thee." 

MA: Did you tell them your testimony? Did you refer to it at all that 

DH: Yeah but it was after I was singing and we're talking about people 
and the reason I didn't say anything at first because there were some 
cops that came in looking around and I just kept singing the song until 
I saw them leaving.

MA: Wow!

DH: And once they left out of the building I kind of stopped them and 
were talking about a place that was packed to capacity. A place that 
held only, maybe legally, about 750-800 people and there was clearly a 
1000 to 1200 people every week in this place. Packed like sardines and 
I'm not just talking about regular people, I'm talking about industry 
people like Alec Baldwin always was there. Gwyneth Paltrow was there 
every Wednesday. Some of the Dodgers were there; a couple of the 
Laker's would come through. It was like an industry place in Malibu 

MA: What was the name of the place?

DH: Malibu Inn. And it wasn't a hotel. It was a restaurant and club 
type of situation. So after the cops had left out they left and I never 
saw the guy that brought me there. I didn't see him again. And then I 
asked the manager did he see the guy that came in with me, did you see 
him leave and he said "Ain't nobody come in with you." I said"huh?" 
That's why I am saying it seemed like this kid was an angel. Because he 
said he didn't seen nobody come in with me and I know he was walking 
with me. He brought me there and he walked in with me. But after the 
cops left I began to tell the people what happened to me that night and 
then I opened my shirt; I opened my jacket and they saw the blood and 
you could just hear the whole audience "Ohhh" and some people started 
crying. And then I went back into the song and people's hands just went 
straight up in the air and I am talking these same people. Alec Baldwin 
was crying in the front with his hands up. People had drinks in their 
hands but there hands were up and after I finished it was 
emotionally…the Holy Spirit came in. I finished that song and I just 
told them look "It's over for me y'all, It's over" and I walked off that 
stage and I asked the manager of the band that we put together "Just 
take me home." And he said that when he got back to the club, people 
were still in there crying and there was basically churchin' because I 
didn't live but about ten minutes away from there.

MA: What an amazing story.

DH: And after that, that was it.

MA: I remember you saying that you were done with R&B and I know you are close to Kelly Price and Kelly and a lot of artists who grew up in the church, they like doing both because R&B is just another expression of life for them. But what made you shut the door on R&B for good? What of that experience made you feel like you had to leave that behind you?

DH: Because I feel that you can't just serve two masters. And to me that is serving two masters; that's straddling the fence. You know what I mean. People don't want to hear that because they tell you God gave you this talent for this and He did give you the talent for that reason. Most of it was for to sing and edify Him, to worship Him. It wasn't for you to go out here and…I had to get that conviction for myself because when I was in the world I said the same thing. I made reference to Christian doctors and Christian lawyers. You have some Christian law firms you know. A lot of the doctors who are saved they work in secular environments. I used to make reference to that but God convicted me of that whole thing. It's just about people who want to live for God for real. Who want to live a sold out life. I don't think that you can do both. There's no way. If God is going to send you into those camps, He's going to make a way for your music to be heard. He's going to give you the type of music that will allow you to go into those camps and minister to those people where they are at. I don't feel you have to go, you know, you can't do both to me.
Dave Hollister and Blackstreet

                                             Dave Hollister and the United Tenors

This interview was originally published on in EUR.