Greg Long Interview
Greg Long, a silky smooth
vocalist in pop group Avalon, enjoyed six number one hit songs and two
Dove nominations prior to joining the group in 2003. He then joined Avalon,
a group which has sold more than three million records, had twenty number
one hits and a three year run as group of the year (2002-04), as named
by CCM Magazine. One would think somewhere in the midst of all that notoriety
there would be a temptation to become a little nonchalant about your career.
As I discovered in my recent conversation with the talented and affable
singer, that couldn't be further from the truth.
"I am thrilled that I get
to make records and I am thrilled that people come to our concerts. I am
a very grateful human being," said Greg. As we discussed the type
of music, both mainstream and Christian that he grew up listening to in
South Dakota he said, "I think it is so cool that what I was attracted
to as a teen growing up God has allowed me to be a part of."
In referring to his personal
success before joining Avalon Greg modestly said, "Am I successful? I make
a living at it. How about we go with that?" He retains an equal air of
humility when referring to his own role with Avalon. "I am sharing the
stage with three amazing vocalists. Jody (McBrayer) is a freak of nature
because he can sing so high. He's not human. Then you get my wife (Janna)
whose vocal tone is world class. I would put her vocal tone up against
anybody's. Her vocal tone is so unique, soulful and rich. The song "Everything
To Me" shows off Melissa's (Greene) range. This girl sings those notes
night after night. I remember when we were listening to the rough mix of
one song in the car and I turned to Janna and said I can't believe Melissa
sang that high. (At first)Janna didn't think it was Melissa and thought
it must be a keyboard part. God has given her (Melissa) the ability to
have that range and she does it night after night. I am along for the ride.
I have the least attractive voice of all of them. I am a 'Johnny come lately.'
I just want to be there in a support role."
Greg believes his parents
and his marriage help him keep a healthy perspective of his career and
ministry. "I really credit my parents with telling me since I was a kid
that the eternal things are important; your relationship with Christ, your
family and your friends. People are important. My dad is semi-retired
but still preaching. He will call me on a Monday after preaching somewhere
on the Sunday. He will be jumping out of his skin because someone will
have prayed and invited Christ into their life. He has been doing this
for more than forty years. When you have that kind of history it gives
you a pretty good idea about what is important in life."
Inspiration was also taken
from his grandparents' lives. He referred to them as heroes. "I am glad
to know that we have the hope of glory and be it today or in fifty years
when I die I will be reunited with them. That will be a happy day not a
sad day. I have the hope of glory. I have the hope of being reunited with
those who have passed on," he said.
"Spiritually I am a part
of this ministry (Avalon). We don't believe that it is just artistry but
it is a ministry. God therefore allows you to communicate truths that are
based upon the Word. I have no problem doing that. I do that with passion,"
said the affable Long.
marriage to Janna and subsequent birth of their daughter Lillian brought
about some positive life-altering experiences for Long. If there are any
young single musicians or singers out there wondering how to muster the
courage to ask out someone you know from the music industry pull up a chair
and gather some tips from Uncle Greg because he has a unique story to tell.
Greg and Janna met while
participating in a tour known as the Young Messiah Christmas tour in 1997.
Janna, one of the original members of Avalon, was touring with the group
while Greg was appearing as a solo performer. "I didn't ask her out while
the tour was going on because if she said yes it would be awkward for the
rest of the tour and if she said no it would be awkward," he said. Being
the brave soul that Greg is he waited until the buses pulled over for a
break. That's when you hit her up with the big question right Greg? No.
Come on, Greg, there are thousands if not tens of thousands of young men
out there reading this article. "I went to a pay phone and dialed Janna's
home number knowing she wasn't there to answer because she was on one of
the other tour buses. I left a message asking her out for that week. She
said yes and that was the beginning of the end." Greg I think you mean
that was the beginning of the rest of your life, right?
Long said that when
he and Janna got married on May 13, 2000, it was one of the happiest days
of his life. "It has been five of the greatest years of friendship and
all the things that go with marriage, the good, the hard, the fun and the
sad, all of the things that you share on the journey," he says. One of
the things that he has learned to truly admire about his wife is her loyalty
to family and friends. He marvels at things such as the friendship Janna
shares with someone she has known since she was six years old.
The birth of daughter Lillian
on May 17, 2004 moved Janna and Greg into a new adventure parenthood. Greg
recalled one night when he got up to take care of Lillian because she wasn't
feeling well. After rocking her for awhile he placed her back in her crib
and lay down on the floor beside the crib. He said, "I stuck my hand through
the crib to hold hers and she held mine with her little hand. I told a
friend of mine that is just one of the greatest moments you ever have."
Janna echoed those sentiments,
"Becoming a mother changed the way I looked at everything in life, especially
my career. Although I love what I do, there is nothing more
important than my calling as Lillian's mom. My greatest accolades
and awards pale in comparison to the joy and fulfillment I receive from
When I asked Greg about
the challenges of being a touring couple and having a daughter he surprised
me by telling me how he doesn't consider it to be nearly as difficult as
the challenges facing single parents who may have more than one child and
have to do it all alone.
Janna said the biggest challenge
is finding quality time together as a couple. "I think Greg and I have
had to adjust more to working together all the time than we did to just
being married. It is such a blessing to be together so much but sometimes,
we have to work at giving each other enough space as well as finding quality
time with one another that has nothing to do with our jobs."
Long said that you cannot
underestimate the importance of belonging to and being plugged into a regular
church fellowship. "I have a men's group that I go to and it gives me accountability.
I am also a big believer in going to church. That sounds weird but that
is one of the things that are difficult about being a recording artist
in Christian music. We are home very few Sundays. I am one of the people
who are supposed to volunteer to serve communion in our church. Communion
happens once per month on a Sunday morning. I can't tell you when the last
time was that I served communion. Being a part of a church body and being
fed is very important."
"Finding time for God and
ourselves is no more difficult or easy than it is for anybody else. That
is a priority that you have to have as a person and a couple," said Greg.
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.