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
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
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?
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
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.
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?
Dave Hollister and Blackstreet
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 the United Tenors
This interview was originally published on in EUR.