With a mile-long string of awards, hit singles and best-selling albums, Avalon has established itself as one of the most formidable forces in Christian pop music today. Yet despite the success of their 10-year career, the foursome known as Avalon has been through the fire—first with the sudden death of a close friend and mentor, Grant Cunningham, followed by personnel changes and the departure of founding member Michael Passons. After a lot of soul searching, Avalon has emerged intact, with a deepened faith
and renewed commitment to the mission of encouragement that has marked the group from its inception. That strengthened passion is clearly evident on the group’s latest release, The Creed,
a worshipful, intimate reflection of where Avalon has come.
To read a review of The Creed, listen to samples and order your copy, click here.
“This whole record is worship,” explains Melissa Greene, one of Avalon’s newest members. “Most of the songs are [written] directly to God, and [are about] being thankful for all that’s He’s done.”
When Melissa came to the group in late 2002, founding members Jody McBrayer and Janna Long felt that Avalon’s ministry had come full circle. Avalon had accomplished more than many artists dream of with 19 #1 radio hits, 20 Dove nominations and three Dove Awards, two Grammy nominations and many other accolades. But Jody and Janna found themselves aware more than ever of their need for Christ’s grace and goodness, if any of the music stuff was going to matter at all.
“[Jody and Janna] really just wanted to get back to what it’s all about, get back to the ministry,” Melissa says. “They wanted the future of Avalon’s ministry to be truly vertical; not that it hadn’t been in the past by any far stretch, but that was their true focus now for the future… all of our hearts are just very excited to get a hold of a full new project with that being our goal.”
Together with newest member Greg Long, the four members of Avalon have presented a passionate portrait of their hearts throughout The Creed, most clearly evidenced in the album’s title song. A clear-cut testimony of faith in Christ, “The Creed” strips away everything but the simplest, greatest truth of salvation.
“‘The Creed’ [says] this is what we believe,” affirms Melissa. “We believe that God is the Father, His son is Jesus Christ. He sent Him to earth to die for us and now we can all live because of that. This is what we stand on; this is why we get up on stage every night. That’s why that song is so powerful for us, because it is our mission statement.”
Part of what makes The Creed, both song and album, such a personal and powerful statement for Avalon is the group members’ participation in the songwriting process. For the first time, Avalon collaborated with a team of celebrated writers to add an autobiographical touch to the focus of the album. Among the songs that resulted from that group effort are the moving ballad “Abundantly,” co-written by Janna, and “The Good Way,” co written by Janna and Melissa with Dove Award winning songwriter Cindy Morgan.
But songwriting is not what the group feels is their first calling. “We’re excited to get our hands on that side of it, but we also love the fact that there are songwriters out there that maybe God hasn’t given the ability to sing, but He’s gifted them so mightily in songwriting. We’re so glad to share those songs as well,” Melissa explains. Each of the songs on the album, despite featuring the talents of various writers, portrays a clear, specific message that speaks for the members of Avalon.
For Melissa, the most powerful song on The Creed is a sweeping ballad called “You Were There,” written by a young Nashville songwriter named Ben Glover. Beautifully sung by Jody, “You Were There” is about the truth that God is “always there, no matter what we’re going through. If it’s the darkest hour, when we think that there’s no other way out, God shows up and He shows us what to do. The song is truly anointed and powerful… and I think it’s going to be another powerful way that we can minister to the audience,” Melissa says.
Reaching their audiences with the gospel is what Avalon has been hard at work at all along, and the renewed vigor they’ve found in that calling is changing Jody, Janna, Melissa and Greg even as it subtly changes their music. “I don’t know if it’s a new chapter in all of our lives [or] maybe a new maturity for the group,” Melissa says about the influence the last three years of spiritual reckoning have had on The Creed. “It’s been a hard year…but we’re excited. We think that God’s hand is all over this, and He has had perfect songs for us right now, and we’re really excited about the ministry now.”