Avalon is an American contemporary Christian vocal quartet. The group has earned multiple RIAA-certified gold records, sold four million albums, and released 22 number-one Christian hits.
1995-97: Formation; A Maze of Grace:
Avalon was formed in 1995 after Norman Miller of Proper Management took the idea of a vocal group to Grant Cunningham, A&R Director at Sparrow Records. Miller's vision was to have two male and two female vocalists who could sing tight harmonies and carry the Gospel to the world. Cunningham publicized his intentions and received many demo tapes, but nothing fit his desires. After letting the idea of Avalon rest a while, Cunningham attended an artist showcase in Nashville to listen to a singer. However, another artist, Michael Passons, caught his attention, and Passons was the first of the group's founding members. Soon after, former Truth vocalist and South Carolina native Janna Potter (Long) heard about Avalon's formation. Rikk Kittleman and Tabitha Fair became part of the group, but each left after a short time. Fair was offered a solo record deal, and Kettleman left for other opportunities. With two member openings, Long contacted former Truth vocalist Jody McBrayer, who became a member of Avalon a few days later. Nikki Hassman Anders was the fourth founding vocalist of Avalon. Hassman recorded two albums with Avalon, Avalon (December 26, 1996) and A Maze of Grace (December 1997), but left in May 1998 to pursue a solo career with Sony Records.
1998-02: In a Different Light, Joy, Oxygen and solo projects:
Cherie Paliotta Adams replaced Hassman after one of Avalon's co-managers listened to a country music demo tape recorded by Adams. Though country is not a genre Avalon performs in, executives chose Adams as they believed she would be a perfect fit. Adams recorded four albums with Avalon, In a Different Light (March 23, 1999), Joy: A Christmas Collection (September 26, 2000), and Oxygen (May 22, 2001) as well as a remix album, O2: Avalon Remixed (March 2002). Up until the spring of 2002 Grant Cunningham, A&R Director at Sparrow Records, had been the executive producer for all of Avalon's records since he organized the group in 1995. Grant suffered a fatal head injury during a soccer game in early July of 2002. Cherie departed the group to pursue a solo ministry geared toward single women, and in September 2002, she was replaced by Melissa Greene, Janna's other fellow former band-mate of the now disbanded group Truth. In between projects Jody McBrayer released a solo album This Is Who I Am in September 2002. The album included the Top Ten hit "Never Alone (Nunca Solo)" a duet with Jadyn Strand Maria, as well as a number-one single, "To Ever Live Without Me". Janna also released a self-titled solo album in October which contained the number-two song "Greater Is He".
2003-06: The Creed, Stand and Faith:
On March 25, 2003, Avalon released a greatest hits record, Testify to Love: The Very Best of Avalon, which featured two new singles that became No. 1 hits; "Everything to Me" and "New Day." It was the last album to include founding member Michael Passons: the Avalon member known as 'Father Avalon' left only months after the album's release (in summer 2003) to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Janna's husband, Greg Long. On February 24, 2004, Avalon released the studio album The Creed. Three singles were released: lead single "All," which made it to No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary Christian Songs chart; "You Were There," a No. 2 Inspirational Charts hit, and "I Wanna Be With You", featuring Greg Long as the lead singer. Avalon's sixth studio album, Stand, was released on January 24, 2006. Lead single "Love Won't Leave You" peaked in the Top 20 of both Billboard Hot Christian Songs and Hot Christian Adult Contemporary charts. The next single, "Orphans of God," was serviced to radio on April 7, 2006 and peaked in the Top 5 of Radio & Records' Inspo chart the week of August 11, 2006. Additionally, "Somehow You Are" was released to radio in August 2006. On October 17, 2006, Avalon released a fan-requested hymns album, titled Faith: A Hymns Collection.
2007-09: Another Time, Another Place, The Greatest Hits:
In mid-2007, Jody McBrayer decided to depart the group due to a heart condition. But, before he left, he found time to record one last album with Avalon. On February 26, 2008, Avalon released their ninth album, Another Time, Another Place: Timeless Christian Classics. A headlining tour, titled "The We Will Stand Tour", with Michael English, the Daniel Doss Band and new Fervent Records girl group Cadia followed in spring 2008 to promote the classics album. The first single released from Another Time, Another Place was their cover of the Twila Paris song "God Is In Control". The second single, released on November 5, 2007, was a remake of the Sandi Patty/Wayne Watson song "Another Time, Another Place", featuring a Jody/Janna duet. On November 13, 2007, Avalon released Another Time, Another Place EP a digital EP titled featuring three songs from the album: singles "God is in Control," "Another Time, Another Place" and a cover of the Amy Grant song "Thy Word". Current Avalon member Jeremi Richardson joined the group in late 2007 to replace Jody McBrayer. Jeremi, Melissa, and Janna had attended the same college, Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. He sang with the group, Voices of Liberty, in Orlando, Fla. Melissa and Janna found out about Jeremi through mutual acquaintances. He sent his music to them and immediately had a heart for the ministry of Avalon. Jeremi was a great fit for the group and had the previous experience. On November 11, 2007, Melissa Greene announced at a show in Spring Arbor, Michigan, that it was the first concert with Richardson officially being a member of the group. It was confirmed in late 2008 that EMICMG would release Avalon: The Greatest Hits, a compilation of successful hits from previous Avalon recordings. It is notable that the track list, as published by the record label, bears many of the same hits featured on the 2003 release Testify to Love: The Very Best of Avalon (11 of the 16 songs featured on the older hits record also made the cut for the new one). The album does, however, contain four radio successes from three of Avalon's projects that have been released since the last hits record: "All" and "You Were There" from The Creed (2004), "Orphans of God" from Stand (2006), and "In Christ Alone" from Faith: A Hymns Collection (2006). In addition, the album features a new song from Avalon titled "Still My God." On March 31, 2009, "Still My God" became Avalon's first No. one single since "New Day" released in 2003, from Avalon's previous greatest hits album.
On May 15, 2009, Melissa Greene announced her resignation from Avalon on her personal website upon accepting a position as Pastor of Music and Arts at Gracepointe Church in Nashville. Melissa will continue her solo career as well. On May 21, 2009, Avalon announced that Richardson's wife Amy would fill Greene's spot as the newest member of Avalon. Janna went on maternity leave from Avalon February 9, 2010 after giving birth to her daughter Eleanor Hovland. Shortly after the release of the recent hits record, Avalon announced they would be returning to the studio to record a brand-new, all original album (their first since Stand in 2006) on E1 Music (formerly Koch Records), thus ending Avalon's long-time stint on the Sparrow Records (EMI Christian Music Group) label. Avalon began recording vocals for the new album with Amy McBride Richardson as its new member on May 19, 2009. It was announced in June 2009 that the album would be titled Reborn. The first single "Arise" was released to Christian radio in August 2009; on December 9, it officially became Avalon's 22nd career No. 1 radio hit, topping Billboard's Soft AC/Inspirational chart. This came just weeks after the group wrapped up their co-headlining tour with fellow Christian group Selah in the fall of 2009, which sold out many venues.
Janna Long (1995-present),
Greg Long (2003-present),
Jeremi Richardson (2007-present),
Amy McBride Richardson (2009-present),
Nikki Hassman Anders (1996-1998),
Cherie Adams (1998-2002),
Michael Passons (1995-2003),
Jody McBrayer (1995-2007),
Melissa Greene (2002-2009)