Advertisement
  1. Hillsborough

Christian vocal group Avalon returns with new songs and a tour stop in Tampa

Christian vocal group Avalon are, from left, Greg Long, Janna Long, Dani Rocca and Jody McBrayer. [Photo courtesy of Avalon]
Published Aug. 21

A decade ago, the Grammy-nominated worship group Avalon stopped making new music to focus on family and church life.

The band, originally formed in 1995, lost and added members through the years. Of its founding three, Janna Long, Michael Passons and Jody McBrayer, only Janna Long remained when Avalon stopped recording in 2009.

At the time, Janna and husband Greg Long, who joined Avalon in 2003, were new parents. The couple moved to Texas and accepted positions as worship team leaders at Woodland Church. They stepped away from world tours to raise babies and plant roots.

Now, the babies are all in school and Avalon is making a comeback.

In July, Avalon released its first single from the 2019 album Called, which features the Longs, new member Dani Rocca and returning member Jody McBrayer.

The Called Tour kicks off Sept. 20 at Riverhills Church of God, located at 6310 E. Sligh Ave. in Tampa. Tickets range from $24.50 to $75.00 and are available at www.compassionlive.com.

I spoke to Greg Long about Avalon's revival.

You've spent the last few years leading Sunday worship at Woodland Church, how is that different than performing a concert with Avalon?

Both have rewarding parts. Both have their difficulties. Being a worship leader, it's not just about reaching people once every tour. You get to go through life with people and see them every weekend. You get to be a part of their joyful and tough moments. With Avalon, the amazing part is being able to reach people across the world.

How has Christian music changed since your early career?

The digital revolution has really changed it from an income standpoint. When I started out in Christian music, my record label had this ten-story building in Tennessee and every floor was the label's. Now, that label is in the same building but only takes up one floor and the rest are rented out to other companies. In that sense, it's gotten smaller.

A good thing is, there's a bigger focus on the local churches and music coming from out of that.

Many worship leaders have taken on identities as 'influencers' in the social media world? What are your thoughts on the subject?

In scripture, David's writings and music influenced people. Really, when you think about, worship music has been influential from that time until the present.

How has Avalon's music changed since the group took a break in 2009?

The message remains the same. We've always been unapologetic in proclaiming our faith. The music has changed to be current. We worked really hard on that. Called is pretty progressive and aggressive in its melodies. We wanted it to say Avalon isn't going away quietly into the night. We are 10 years older but we're not retired.

How will you balance family life with church and touring?

We are only doing nine shows in the fall and 12 in the spring. Our youngest is nine now, so we can be gone two to three days and they can come with us if they want too. We are doing a show in Paris and of course, the kids want to go on that trip.

What are you most looking forward to about the tour?

I feel like I've been waiting so long. I just want to get out there and share these new songs with everybody. I am so excited.

We've been working on this for two and a half years. We are excited to see how the public responds. Also, longtime fans don't need to worry. We will be playing old favorites as well.

Contact Sarah Whitman at sarahrothwhitman@gmail.com.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This Mobil Coast gas station at 16055 State Road 52 in Land O Lakes is one of 10 cited in a Florida Department of Environmental Protection lawsuit where inspectors said they found lapses in regularly required tests, maintenance, documentation or other oversight by Brandon-based Automated Petroleum and Energy or its related companies. On Wednesday, the company said the station had already been put back in compliance with state regulations. (Photo via Google street view) Google street view
    The Florida Department of Environmental Protection contends Automated Petroleum and Energy Company failed to do required maintenance or testing at 10 gas stations in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
  2. The city of Tampa has given notice that it plans to take over the McKay Bay waste-to-energy plant shown in this 2001 photo. Tampa Bay Times
    The city has given its contractor eight months notice that it plans to take control of the facility that turns trash into energy.
  3. Tech Data's headquarters in Clearwater. The company is one of the largest in the Tampa Bay area. TD AGENCY  |  Courtesy of Tech Data
    The Largo company’s stock price soared Wednesday following the report, which the news service based on information from “people familiar with the matter.”
  4. Yesterday• Business
    Col. Jennifer Crossman smiles as Boomer, a 5-year-old dog, sits in the passenger seat of her car during the firefighter challenge at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. [Times (2016)] Tampa Bay Times
    Uber customers can now be connected with willing animal chauffeurs — for a fee.
  5. Yesterday• Hillsborough
    Grilling enthusiasts can find a large selection of grills, smokers and accessories at Carrollwood ACE Hardware. Special to the Times
    The store is located in Westwood Plaza at 4531 Gunn Highway.
  6. Yesterday• Hillsborough
    Jerome is available for adoption from St. Francis Animal Rescue. Courtesy of St. Francis Animal Rescue
    Jerome and his sister Jada are both available to adopt.
  7. Eric Wordlaw, 17, is wanted on a charge of attempted murder in an Oct. 12 shooting, according to Tampa police. Tampa Police Department
    He is accused of shooting an 18-year-old he saw at a store, according to Tampa police.
  8. An 18 month-old girl died after being left in a car Monday. No charges are expected, police say. WFTS  |  Courtesy of
    No charges are expected after 18 month-old girl was left in a Jeep as her father took a truck to work, police say.
  9. University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle pieces together a skull that might have been Amelia Earhart's. SANDRA C. ROA  |  University of South Florida
    DNA from a skull found in 1940 could prove whether the famous aviator has been found.
  10. Nearly a year after it was left abandoned and half-sunk off the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, a salvage crew finally raised and towed the Moonraker II to the Courtney Campbell boat ramp. It is slated to be crushed. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The boat was an eyesore to those who live off Tampa Bay. Then it became a political statement. Now it’s been towed and will soon be crushed.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement