Tree63 is a South African band with a pop/rock/alternative/worship
sound. The group, which formed in Durban, South Africa, hit it big in
the United States in 2000, and have been touring with contemporary Christian
artists such as Rebecca St. James, Audio Adrenaline, Toby Mac, MercyMe,
and Out of Eden. This success, though, has taken them far beyond what
they ever dreamed or imagined God would do in their lives.
In 1996, John Ellis and Daryl Swart, both feeling the
need to do something different with their lives, played at a music festival
in Durban after only practicing together for 6 hours. They had 5 songs
and no name, but the crowd went wild. The two, along with friend, "Scoop,"
who played bass guitar, continued to have jam sessions for fun and play
for live audiences into 1997. The response continued to grow, and the
group began to realize that they had something special.
In April of 1997, the group independently released their
first album, Overflow, which was produced by their good friend Martin
Engle. They chose the name "Tree" because it was short and to-the-point,
yet full of imagery. Revelation 22:2 sums up the group's reason for
The band went through some difficult times after this
and even broke up for a while. When they reconvened, they began working
on their next project, 63, which was released in July of 1999. 63 was
used as the title because Psalm 63 was the inspiration behind the lyrics
that John wrote for the song "Earnestly."
Early in 2000, Tree63 went to the United States for the
first time to meet with InPop Records, a US label based out of Nashville.
A deal was established, but the group could not use "Tree" as their
name because another group was already using it that had it tattooed
all over their bodies. They decided to go with Tree63 because that's
what their last album said anyways. In October of the same year, Tree63
was released and went on to win the 2001 Dove Award for Best Rock Album
of the Year.
Despite the change of two members, Tree63 went on to release
two more albums: The Life and Times of Absolute Truth in 2002, and The
Answer to the Question in 2004. Their rendition of Matt Redman's "Blessed
Be Your Name" was the number one song on the radio in the US for 2004.
The song has also been nominated for two Dove awards.
John Ellis... Lead Vocals, Guitar
Daniel Ornellas... Bass
Thenius (Tain) Odendaal... Drums
Martin Engel . . . Bass, Vocals (2000-2003)
Darryl Swart . . . Drums, Vocals (til 2003)
Tree63's next project is due out in the fall of 2005. As they continue
to build success and reach more and more people, their purpose remains
the same. They want their music to excite people and let them know that
being a Christian is the most awesome thing that anyone could possibly
do with their life. There is no greater joy!