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Avalon’s upcoming album testifies to plenty — including musical heritage, love and transition.

“Another Time, Another Place: Timeless Christian Classics” offers updated versions of 15 songs from an earlier era of contemporary Christian music. One of those songs is the quartet’s own “Testify to Love” — one of the group’s biggest hits.

In addition, the album represents the last contribution from Jody McBrayer, whose voice propelled some of Avalon’s biggest hits.

The disc’s songs range from the title track, originally recorded in 1973 by Sandi Patty, to Crystal Lewis’ “People Get Ready” from 1996. They were chosen from a list of about 100 songs, said Avalon’s Greg Long, who’s married to founding member Janna Long.

“We didn’t just choose songs that were our favorites,” Long said. “We also did a survey on our Web site to find out what songs our fans would like to hear.”

Avalon is known for energetic pop vocals, so it’s no surprise that most of the songs lean in that direction. However, one of the best tracks offers a swing into assertive rock. Twila Paris’ “God Is In Control” is pretty energetic to begin with, but Avalon’s version turns up the amp even more.

In discussions with their producer, Avalon’s member suggested, “Let’s try to take the energy of it up a little bit and make it a little more aggressive,” Long said. “I know that one in particular, we were all thrilled with how it was feeling.”

The song — which will become the opener in upcoming concerts — is especially popular with people seeking encouragement during tough times, Long said.

“A lot of times we associate it with it being a difficult time for me or my country or my family, and we say: ‘Boy, we really need to hear those words — God is in control,’” he said. “But we always need to know that. Whether things are going great or we’re having struggles, we always really need to know that.”

Long also likes Steve Green’s soft and sweet “People Need the Lord,” which Long often sang with a college group. He likes “the purity of the message of that song — the simple message that people need the Lord.”

Since its 1996 debut, Avalon has seen several changes in its lineup. The most recent transition occurred when Jody McBrayer left because of health problems in July.

“It was difficult to think about losing a talent like Jody,” Long said.

While searching for a replacement, the group came across Jeremi Richardson and he was invited to perform a show with Avalon in Oklahoma.

“His voice, even in that opening performance, pretty much blew everyone away,” Long said. “They didn’t even know who this person was going to be who was filling in this spot for Jody, but he got a standing ovation halfway through one of his songs.”

The transition has led to some mixed emotions.

“We were terribly sad — and are terribly sad — to lose Jody but, at the same time, we were thrilled to add Jeremi because his voice and his spirit really is a match for the group,” Long said.

The new album — the group’s ninth studio project — will be released on Feb. 26. Before that, the group will make a swing through South Korea, performing several concerts and meeting with U.S. troops stationed in the area.

Although Avalon has performed for servicemembers in the past, this week’s trip will represent the group’s first visit with troops stationed overseas. Long said they’re looking forward to the trip, which will run from Thursday through Sunday.

“We are totally so grateful for everything the men and women in our armed forces do,” he said.

On the Web: www.avalonlive.com

Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.


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