by Tracy Darlington
"I would like to see the Christian music industry reflecting the heartbeat of the entire body of Christ." --Jeremi Richardson
Formed in 1996, Avalon has been called the premier vocal group in Christian music. To date, the quartet has sold more than three million albums, charted 20 No. 1 singles, and won an American Music Award plus numerous Dove Awards such as the 1999 Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year for “Testify to Love.”
The only remaining founding member, Janna Long, is joined by her husband Greg Long (who's solo career garnered eight number one singles, six top 10 hits, an ASCAP Award, and two Dove Award nominations), Melissa Greene, and newest member Jeremi Richardson, who joined the group in November 2007.
Greg & Jeremi
sat down with us and chatted their new record Another Time, Another Place,
reaching our friends for Christ, how they stay on track
spiritually, and much more!
Tracy: When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
GREG: I started singing on the platform in my dad's revivals when I was a tiny little one but didn't realize it was what I wanted to do for life until college. I had some serious trouble with my voice and, like a lot of things, I figured out how much I loved singing after almost losing the ability.
What made you decide to join Avalon?
GREG: It took awhile to figure everything out, but it has been a real blessing to be with my wife and daughters while "on the job."
What’s the funnest part about being a member of Avalon?
GREG: When you join you are obligated to buy and only drive an "Avalon."
Your new album “Another Time Another Place” is full of remakes of classic songs. Why did you guys decide to record a CD like this instead of another pop album?
GREG: We were raised in church and loving Christian music and have had many of these songs minister to us. It seemed like it was time to "Avalonize" them and hopefully allow them to minister to others in 2008.
What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to the project?
GREG: I guess Twila Paris' song would be a good message to remember. God is in Control.
What was the biggest challenge you had when you recorded this album?
GREG: Agreeing on which songs to record is never easy and this was no exception.
Out of all Avalon’s albums which one would you say is your number one favorite?
GREG: Stand perhaps.
What type of music would you guys love to record, but you haven’t yet?
GREG: Praise music maybe.
Is there anything you’d like to see change about the Christian music industry?
JEREMI: I have only been around the industry for a few years; during this time, I have only been involved from a distance. Since November that has changed. The only change I would like to see is that the Christian music industry is reflecting the heartbeat of the entire body of Christ. I’m not saying the music is not good; I love what I hear. But where are the movers and shakers of my childhood? Why are artists often pigeonholed into one sound? I remember Christian music as a lifeline. I want my children to feel the same. I believe that now is the time to seek God's favor. Artists, producers, song writers, disc jockeys and everyone accept this as encouragement, not as a newcomer’s rebuke. You are part of the reason I am a worshiper! Let's find what God is saying and change the world with that message.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to reach their friends for Christ?
JEREMI: Lead by example! Show them the love and hope that is in you and be ready to justify your hope when asked. Isn't it amazing that something that should be so easy is often one of the most difficult to do?
What’s the biggest obstacle in your life God’s helped you overcome?
JEREMI: I think accepting the calling on my life. I grew up in a minister’s home and saw some of the horrible ways that God’s children treat one another. I didn't want to raise a family that way. I realized that fear was keeping from my destiny and fear is not of God.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
JEREMI: Reading my Bible, praying, surrounding myself with positive influence; especially music.
What steps would you give to someone who wants to get closer to God?
JEREMI: Taking more time to listen to His voice than making Him always listen to you.
What’s the most memorable place you have performed and why?
JEREMI: The Mt. Of Olives and Korea; there was such a open heart for ministry and song.
How do you beat stress and keep yourself in shape while you’re on the road?
JEREMI: Laughter and coffee
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
GREG: I am a HUGE Minnesota Vikings fan. I have the NFL Sunday ticket on our tour bus so I can watch all the games no matter where we are.
When you're not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
GREG: Playing with my girls. Going to the movies
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
GREG: Oatmeal, orange juice and coffee
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
GREG: Milk for cereal, eat it every night-even on tour bus, Diet Pepsi.
You're next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
JEREMI: If I were in line ordering at Starbucks I would get the coffee of the day; the stronger the better
What's left unchecked in your "goals for life" list?
JEREMI: There are several things left unchecked: going to Italy, singing at the Dove awards, playing Jean valJean in Les Miserables, recording a solo album... The list goes on
What's currently in your CD player/iPod?
JEREMI: Avalon, Another Time Another Place and Ricardo Sanchez, Moving Forward
When was the last time you cried?
JEREMI: Saturday evening around 7 during our concert in Korea. Thousands of voices singing I Love You Lord united together with no walls built by language. It was a very moving moment.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
JEREMI: Take time to tell those close to you that you love them. Not to long ago I lost a great friend; I never got to tell him what a great influence he was on my life. Also, don't forget to buy the new Avalon album, Another Time Another Place, this February.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.