Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

It's a busy month - here's some of what's going on. On August 8 - 10. the Newsong Festival featuring Jars of Clay happens at Camp Loucon in Leitchfield. You can get more info at www.newsongmusicfestival.com. August 15, the Summer Jam 2003 featuring Newsong and many others comes to Valley View Church on Old Third Street Road in Louisville. There are no advance tickets - admission is $10 at the door.

Finally, Unityfest 2003 featuring Avalon, John P. Kee and the New Life Community Choir and the Clark Sisters is set for August 29 at Broadbent Arena. It's a rare event that includes both Adult Contemporary white Christian artists as well as Black Gospel artists. The event marks the first time in over two years that Avalon (Jody McBrayer, Janna Long, Melissa Green and until last month, Michael Passons) have sung in Louisville. I talked recently with Melissa Green of Avalon about the event and the recent changes in her group.

Louisville Music News: You have not been in Avalon that long-has it even been a year?

Melissa Green: No, it'll be a year September.

LMN: A year in September, well . . .

MG: Yeah, it's getting close to a year, but not yet.

LMN: Not quite. Tell us a little bit about being in Avalon. I mean, what is that like day-to-day?

MG: It's wonderful! You know I've really become part of the family and I think that's been the best thing about it is because I've been able to develop some great relationships since I've been here and just to have some obviously amazing opportunities to go out every weekend and sing in new places and meet new people. Probably the most exciting thing I've done with them so far is the American Music Awards. That was just incredible!

LMN: What was that day like?

MG: Oh, it was amazing! You know, it was just exciting in itself to go see that because I think especially as a singer you always you've grown up watching the Grammys, the American Music Awards, but I think once you decide in your heart that you're going to sing for the Lord, you sort of put that at the back of your mind that that's not something that would ever come for you. Then when they called us to say that they've added an inspirational category, it's just in its second year and they nominated Avalon we were just humbled and honored just to be able to go and sit amongst those people. Then when they called our names to say that we'd won, we could not have been more shocked, but it was just an exciting and very humbling experience to be there.

LMN: It seems like I remember you guys talking about one of the members of the group being sick.

MG: You know, Michael was sick. He was actually throwing up the whole day and he even brought a trash can in the limo with him and I mean, it was up to the last minute that he even decided to go. We're glad that he did decide to go because, like I said, we had no clue that it was going to happen at all. It was the farthest thing from our mind that we would actually win it.

LMN: That was very, very cool to see the win on national television. well, what is a typical day like in the life of Avalon nowadays?

MG: On the road we wake up really early, usually getting to the airport anywhere between 6 and 8 and flying to the new city. Usually go get lunch and then spend the afternoon in your hotel. Then go around 4 to a sound check and eat dinner. Then we go back to the hotel and get ready or to a dressing room and go do the show ... and then go to bed as quickly as possible. Get up for the next early morning.

LMN: And start the cycle again.

MG: Exactly.

LMN: Since you're such a new member of the group, remind everybody how did you end up in Avalon, I mean, we know you were a member of the group Truth. How did that happen? It seems like it's happened so many times with Truth, obviously, but . . .

MG: (laughs) Long story short, I met Jody when he was still traveling with Truth. I was sixteen and did a solo workshop, his parents happened to be there and came up, introduced themselves and said that they'd felt like God had placed it on their hearts to help me get started in ministry. They knew that's what I wanted to do with my life and, they got me an audition to be in the vocal group that Jody was (a member of) in college. That ended up not working out, but we kept in touch over the years and never really knew why we met. Then last August I got a phone call out of nowhere from Jody saying he had talked to the founder of Truth and (that) he would love for me to audition. It came up I was the first one that auditioned and we just all knew that this is where God wanted me to be. The rest is history.

LMN: Awesome!

MG: It's neat to look back and see how, you know, we had no idea why we met when I was sixteen, but obviously God had His ultimate will in mind and now we can see how that played out.

LMN: What's the best part about being in the group now that you're a member?

MG: I think just getting the opportunities this group gets and the amazing songs that they get handed to them. That's awesome. It's always an amazing opportunity to go out every night and minister to people and use the gifts God has given us. Because (Avalon is) so well-known we get to do it often. That's the best thing about it.

LMN: Let's talk about UnityFest. The line-up is Avalon, John P. Kee and the New Life Community Choir and The Clark Sisters. The theme for UnityFest is "It doesn't matter what color you are." I think it's pretty awesome that Avalon is a part of this event. Any thoughts on "unity" and being a part of this event?

MG: I think that's amazing! I sang with Kirk Franklin before I was in Avalon and I've always just believed it really doesn't matter (what color you are). Kirk Franklin has a song that actually says that. We all share the same blood and Christ saved us all the same equally. It's awesome when we get to do events like this and just bring different cultures together.

LMN: One more question. There have been some changes very recently in Avalon. Michael is no longer a member of the group. Greg Long has been filling in. What is the story there?

MG: It's just it all happened very quickly. We really didn't expect it at all, but Michael has decided to resign and move on. It just happened (in July). Who are we to ever say that Avalon is the "end all" for anybody. Especially Jody and Jana can speak to that because they were the founding members with Michael. God has new plans for Michael and bigger things for him and He also has new plans for this group, so we're trying not to get in the way of what God has for us. We're still here we feel it's still a major calling in our lives for us to continue to do this, As long as you guys will have us we're sticking around.

LMN: Excellent! We are looking forward to seeing you at UnityFest.

MG: Thanks! See you soon!

UnityFest 2003 is August 29 at Broadbent Arena in Louisville. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Events are starting to line up for September. I'll have the scoop in next month's LMN!