Influenced by the Southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd and other artists such as U2 and Rich Mullins, Third Day were originally formed by vocalist Mac Powell and acoustic guitarist Mark Lee. The duo added bassist Tai Anderson and drummer David Carr from another local band, and recorded some demos. Third Day's live shows gradually built a loyal fan base, and just after lead guitarist Brad Avery joined, the band signed to Gray Dot Records. Their eponymous debut followed in 1996, with Conspiracy No. 5 appearing a year later. In 1999 Third Day returned with Time, and the next year Offerings, a collection of new and live material, came out, followed in 2003 by its companion, Offerings II: All I Have to Give. That same year, the American Music Awards tapped them with a nomination in the Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist category.