If you think you already know Jody McBrayer, think again.
Once part of the top-selling vocal group Avalon, Jody appreciates the combined might expressed when four vocal dynamos unite together with a shared principle and purpose. However, in 2000, A landmark personal event produced the pathway that inspired Jody's first-ever solo effort, This Is Who I Am, the musical reflection of an artist whom fans will forever see in a brand new light.
For twelve action-packed years, Jody's vibrant vocals and on-stage charisma helped Avalon sell over 3.5 million albums, land twenty #1 singles, earn two gold records, take home six Dove Awards and even score three GRAMMY Award nominations as well as a huge American Music Award win in the "Favorite Artist" category for Contemporary Inspirational Music. In the midst of this success, however, a life-changing occurrence instilled in Jody a message and vision so personal that its musical expression needed to rest in his lone voice. On September 13, 2000, Jody's spiritual mentor, the man who helped him find his faith and realize his calling, died from an undetected internal growth that attacked his brain. The man was Clyde "Sonny" McBrayer, Jody's father.
"My father's passing brought a moment of revelation," says Jody. "I returned home with so much on my heart and a vision for how to express it. Though Avalon had a common mission statement, there were feelings too personal for a group.â€Ě
Optimizing a break between Avalon albums, Jody sought words to capture his inspired new perspectives and music that would accentuate the songs' emotions and feelings. Working with an elite group of producers - Mark Hammond (Avalon, A*Teens, Nichole Nordeman), Dan Muckala (Mandy Moore, Joy Williams), Tedd T. (ZOEgirl, Stacie Orrico) and Joe Priola (ZOEgirl, Pink) - Jody pushed the pop form with an edgier sound reflecting his deep love for R&B and classic soul.
Jody, who co-penned almost every song, forged through several new ideas and spiritual principles in the wake of his father's passing. The album encompasses the entire spectrum of the new insight learned in his life's latest lessons while still delivering amped-up praise.
Setting no limits, individual songs incorporate nuances from house-trance to Latin-salsa, the latter influence a nod to Jody's Spanish heritage on his mother's side (further international flavor was added by shooting the album artwork in London). Ultimately, Jody's creative thrust captured an empowering vigor and vitality that plants This Is Who I Am right smack into the middle of todayâ€™s eclectic musical landscape.
Jody tackled commitment and values with the song "The Only Thing That Matters," and he showed heartfelt confidence in "There For Me," a song acknowledging that both God and his father's spirit will always be near. Pulling back the velvet rope, the guest list included fresh new labelmate Jadyn Strand joining the mix on the Latin-laced R&B track "Nunca Solo (Never Alone)" and the Katinas kicked out the octaves in the scorching anti-prejudice anthem "Shake It."
"This Is Who I Am showed solid focus," says Jody, "because it said everything that I wanted to say on each song. It still tells my story. The album also conveyed the love of Christ and his unconditional acceptance without alienating a non-believer or seeker. The goal of Is Who I Am was and still is to help reach people who typically wouldn't listen to Christian music because the album's inspiration starts with the powerful and universal theme of loss."
Turning back the calendars, the Tampa-born Jody McBrayer first realized his musical aptitude in high school when he tried out for â€œOklahoma!â€Ě and landed the lead. His college years, though, were head high in business books as he majored in business and only minored in music at Virginiaâ€™s Liberty University. Jody then toured with the vocal group, Truth, before finally moving to California, where he took a job in the casting department of Disney Studios.
Remembered as one of the lowest points in his life, Jody's three-plus years in the Golden State struck the barrel's bottom when a high profile vocal audition coincided with an ill-timed throat problem, negating his opportunity. As a result, Jody isolated himself in a beachside hotel for three days during which he got his spiritual priorities back in order.
Not long after, Jody found himself pulled toward the musical lure of Nashville. There he found his calling with Avalon and met his wife, Stephanie. Through all the painful experiences expressed in Jodyâ€™s new album, Stephanie remained inseparable from her husband making this story as much hers as it is Jodyâ€™s. And through all the ups and downs, it was Jody's father that always steered him in the right direction.
Jody adds, "My dad used to wake me up and ask, 'What are you going to do today to change the world?' I always laughed it off. I started thinking about it a lot, though, after he died. I realized that now is my opportunity to do my part to the change the world, even if it's just a small part."
Fast forward a few years, however, and Jody is enjoying his time off from the music industry, due to a rare form of heart disease that affects a person's ability to undertake physical work, which can be a problem for someone with a hectic life in music. Following this discovery, the shocking announcement of Jody's departure from Avalon occured in April of 2007. â€œMy journey with Avalon was such a tremendous blessing, and I am thankful for the opportunities I was given as part of that amazing group,â€Ě says McBrayer. â€œWhile the decision to leave Avalon saddened me, I felt that it was necessary in order to prolong my health both for myself and my family. I was and am so thankful for the love and support that my family still receives from Janna, Greg and Melissa through this challenging time in our lives.â€Ě He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Sarah-Clayton.
Greetings| Posted December 22, 2012
Not sure if you remember me from, First Baptist Church of Riverview, I have followed your singing for years now, and like you I moved forward in the ministries. A few years back I became Ordained and am now a pastor, right now I pastor an on-line church/ministry, but also help out in ministry in a church of God in Arkansas. I heard of your father going home to be with God, and just heard of your own condition. I just wanted to let you know I lift up a prayer for you brother and wish you well, would love to hear from you, my email is pastorcarl.rush thats at yahoo.