Artist Spotlight - Avalon
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The New Fab Four - Avalon!

They've come a long way. Since the group formed in 1995, they've toured with Crystal Lewis and Anointed, produced three albums with the great Brown Bannister and Charlie Peacock, racked up eight consecutive number-one singles, and won two Dove Awards. But there's more to Avalon than meets the eye.

Avalon's creation has served as fuel for their critics' fires. Avalon was formed in early 1995 by executives at Sparrow Records. Critics have called the group "shallow" and likened them to the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys. If you bring this up, everyone involved is quick to defend themselves - and Avalon. Grant Cunningham, Sparrow's A & R director and co-creator of Avalon, defended the origins of Avalon in an interview with CCM Magazine. "I think it certainly would have been {less honest} if we sat down and auditioned people, picked the four people we thought looked the best, sounded the best and could really pull this off, then bought them a bus and made them a record . . . It started so much more grass roots than that . . . None of us would have done it if there was a question about authenticity . . . As they assembled, my vote began to count less and less. They ultimately found each other, chose each other and then committed to each other . . . It was as honest as possible, in an unconventional way."

Cunningham chose Michael Passons first for Avalon. Next, Cunningham and Passons chose Janna Potter. Janna worked with Jody McBrayer during a stint with the musical group Truth, and he became the third member. The three then chose Nikki Hassman. When Nikki left, they chose Cherie Paliotta as her replacement.

Each member of Avalon has their own nickname, some of which require some explanation. Michael is the founding member of Avalon, hence the name "Father Avalon." "The independent sister" is Janna. Jody is the "peace-keeping puppy," a title given to him by Janna. "I want to peg Jody as the puppy of the family. It's like when there's something wrong, {puppies} want to be right there with their loved one and comfort them." Finally, Cherie is referred to as "the unexpected pregnancy." Huh? The three original Avalon members spent exactly nine months looking for Cherie, Nikki's replacement.

With the release of their new album, "In a Different Light," Avalon charts new musical territory. However, the message a song conveys is more important. Janna expresses the group's mission. "The four of us have been very blessed, but if you look a little deeper, you'll find out that we're just like anybody else. We want tell you how the Lord got us through those struggles and how he can do the same for you."

New Songs from "In a Different Light"
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