I first met Brian Haley (B Haley) in 2011 when TobyMac was on the Winter Wonderslam tour. The tour stopped in Casper, WY on a frigidly cold day. It was so cold that the water bottle Shonlock had in his bunk was partially frozen. As B and I were reminiscing about that day, he told how they were throwing the water from their bottles in the air and watching it freeze instantly. They had never seen that before.
Part of my role that day was as a fill-in runner, helping artists and crew get to where they needed to be in town. The first of my two trips was to take Brandon Heath to a TV station and then I was asked to pick up TobyMac’s drummer (I was given the name Brian Haley) from a local gym. After I picked him up, we hunted around town in my banana yellow truck for a protein shake, lending us some time for conversation. It struck me how real and honest the conversation was.
I’ve followed his career since, and was excited to see him come out with the We Are 1 movement. I got to catch up with Brian again as he came through Dallas on the Hits Deep Tour.
You’ve been doing ministry behind the drums for TobyMac for quite a while, but you’ve had a few side projects over the years.
In and out. I started this band called Superherose, went through that whole phase. Then I started this clothing line called B.It through NOTW clothing, encouraging people to be all that God has called them to be. Then God gave me this vision for uniting people, taking the flag of Diverse City. Toby created Diverse City very strategically to put more diversity in our predominantly white CCM industry. He’s pretty blunt with that, even with dc Talk songs like “Colored People” that bridge the gap between our racial divide. I’ve been taking that flag post and moving pretty strongly with it.
I feel "Colored People" was so ahead of its time, but still very relevant when it was released.
Absolutely. When we were getting ready for the Jesus Freak Cruise two years ago, “Colored People” was one of my favorites to come up.
How has the Hits Deep Tour been?
Amazing. Hits Deep Tour 2019 is been amazing. I remember we were first dreaming it up 8 years ago. Now seeing it selling out basketball arenas and hockey stadiums, it’s pretty surreal and it’s great. It’s a good testament that the gospel is strong and well.
I hear you're traveling with We Are Messengers and on a different bus than normal. How has that been?
Yeah man, Darren is my Irish brother from another mother. I love him, man. This is the first year in 17 years that I’m on a different tour bus than Toby though. It’s a little different just from being familiar with Toby and DiverseCity, but then it’s something sweet and unique. I speak about this diversity when you reach outside of your comfort zone. So going on that bus to get a different vibe, just to feel different heartbeats, it’s pretty cool man. It’s awesome. It’s amazing actually.
You started speaking 5 years ago. Can you talk about how that started?
Toby and the guys told me that I needed to start speaking. I did a couple of bible studies, then God gave me the We Are 1 movement. I told Toby, and he’s like “alright, hey buddy, do you want to do this on my tour, in front of 10,000 people?” I’m like, “Really?”
I heard Joyce Meyer say this: “When God is calling you to do this, most of the time, you’ve got to do it afraid.” So I’ve been doing it afraid each and every night, and God is blessing it. He’s blessing it, brother. I couldn’t ask for a better result. People are buying into the message of love, unity, and service in Jesus name.
What is the main message of We Are 1? What are you talking about every night?
I get to show people how God created us all as human beings. I get people to see that God created us to complete each other, not to compete against each other. My foundational scripture is Matthew 22:39, where Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself,” meaning, just like my sister Mandisa says, we all bleed the same, man. I just love different people coming together, and I love seeing what the body of Christ is going to look like in Heaven.
We’ve been hearing a lot of the same themes and messages of We Are 1 coming from different artists, secular and Christian, as well as from national media. What is the message that separates We Are 1 from what we’re hearing from everywhere else?
The heartbeat of Jesus. It’s the true heartbeat of Jesus. I’ve lived on tour buses with different races for the past 17 years and that’s why the band is called Diverse City. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, it means the common denominator is that we point each other back to Jesus, and that makes everything alright. We’re not focused on the mini little minor stuff we let divide us, we focus on the one major that unites us, and that’s the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s what we gotta come back to, and that’s the difference man. That’s the difference.
Bringing it back to the music, you’ve been drumming for 17 years now. How have you seen music play a part in what you’re speaking now?
Music played a huge part because, without the vehicle, you wouldn’t have the platform or the stage. It’s funny, when it comes to We Are 1, TobyMac, Diverse City–we’re speaking the same thing in different vessels. Whether it’s music, whether it’s speaking, whether it’s books, whether it’s children’s stories–it’s all the same message man, just done in different, strategic, cool, abundant ways. That’s what I love about it. The message can stay the same in different ways. Even in clothing, that’s huge man, to rock what you believe in with what you wear is huge.
You have the clothing line, what’s the story with that?
The whole goal was to create a brand that gave back to people because again, I believe you can tell people about Jesus, but there’s power if you show them Jesus. A certain percentage of all our sales goes to helping low-income families. So, whether that’s a scholarship for a low-income kid who can’t afford school, or helping a single mom with 3 kids who can’t afford health insurance, that’s what we do. We just believe in being the hands and feet of Jesus and leaving a carbon copy in each city that we go into. So, I just want to create a brand that shows people Jesus and they can feel him.
You’ve said that you’re pretty busy and trying to make room for the upcoming Jesus Freak Cruise in June 2019. How far out are you booked?
Right now, I’m probably 8 months in advance and I get requests every night. You can never have too many opportunities to have bookings and speak the truth and the heartbeat of Jesus Christ. I share with everyone each night to book me to speak anywhere, as long as it makes sense for me and my family. I’m just excited man, I’m excited for this next chapter in my life. I just retired from the drums, but I’m still on the same tour speaking, but God has just given me a different chapter and different role to just really influence and to send his message of love and unity.
Are you planning on partnering with any more tours or are you looking to do more speaking-only kind of engagements?
No, brother, there’s definitely some tour partnerships there. Just some other tours that we have going on our Christian industry. I can’t reveal it right now, just know God is working in crazy ways. People are seeing the need for us to really unite, and not just talk about Jesus. See, it’s time out for just talking, it’s time for us to be. We can talk all day long, but an action step goes a whole lot farther.
What’s next for B. Haley?
I have another tour coming up in the fall that I can’t disclose right now. I have a lot of different speaking engagements coming up, like the NBA, NFL. I do colleges, I do churches now, high schools. This message has a way of transcending into different communities and pockets. People are like “You know, we get it now.” I’m a fire starter. I start fires and we ask people to take the torches and run with them. I’m a fire starter. I love it.
Jake is a longtime fan of Christian music, Jesus Freak Cruiser, a techie, and a softball player. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter.
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