Avalon reunites with new album, tour coming to FBC Alabaster

By Tracy Riggs
The Alabama Baptist

After a 10-year hiatus, Avalon is back with a new album and The Called 2020 Tour featuring Sarah Kelly, set to make a stop March 8 at First Baptist Church, Alabaster.

From 1995 until its hiatus, Avalon toured 30–40 cities each spring and fall, said Greg Long, an Avalon vocalist since 2003. But then Long and his wife Janna, an original Avalon vocalist, had a daughter starting school. They asked God if He had other plans.

An invitation came to be full-time worship leaders in Houston, Texas, and they accepted it.

“Avalon went into a pause-mode and didn’t make any new music,” said Long. “I think we played in Seoul, South Korea, maybe two or three times. Or Brazil. [We’d think] oh, that would be fun. Let’s go and do that.”

Then a good friend, Jay DeMarcus, decided to start a new record label and wanted new Avalon music. Long told DeMarcus he liked the idea but warned him the group couldn’t tour like they had in the past because of their family and church responsibilities.

After many discussions, Long agreed to limited touring so the band would “still be able to make a new record and be excited about it.”

Long called Jody McBrayer, an original vocalist who had been gone for 15 years, and offered a deal — “You don’t have to commit your life to it like we used to,” he said. “We’re just going to make a new record and tour a few weekends.”

McBrayer was in, along with a new singer, Dani Rocca.

“What that has done for us is given us new music which has brought new life inside of us,” said Long. Playing only 14 cities, Avalon is going back to their roots.

“Our first love is being in cities like Alabaster, getting to share our music from the past 20 years and some of our new music,” Long said. “[We] get to interact with people again, reminding ourselves what a great God we serve and how we are so honored to get to share His music.”

A new tour means a new album — “Called,” which releases Feb. 14 — and new preparation, Long said — like choosing which of Avalon’s 22 No. 1 songs will be on the set list.

They decide through prayer, he said, wanting the Lord to be involved in every part of the tour.

A lot of things haven’t changed in the past 10 years, McBrayer said, but one thing has — social media. Avalon is learning how to connect with fans on social media, but though the medium is different, the message is the same — Jesus saves.

‘Honor and blessing’

“One of the songs from the new record, ‘If Not for Jesus,’ is one of my favorites … [because] it’s a reminder for us to look at our lives and say, ‘Where would I be without Christ? Who would I be without Christ?’”

Like anything that involves multiple people, conflicts are inevitable.

“God has been faithful to work [them] out and come up with songs that glorify Christ, which is our goal,” Long said. “He doesn’t have to use us but He does, and that’s truly an honor and blessing.”

For ticket information go to avalonlive.org.