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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.

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