Staff writer Andrew Stephens spoke with the Jim Brady Trio about the group’s ministry and their latest release – Promises.
Andrew Stephens: In the past 2 years, the Jim Brady Trio has reached a variety of audiences. Tell us about some of the places the trio has visited throughout this time.
Jim Brady: Since the start of Jim Brady Trio, we’ve enjoyed traveling to some interesting places. We’ve been to Norway, Sweden, Canada, and all over the U.S. We’ve also cruised the Caribbean with all of our friends at IMC, with Bill Gaither and the Homecoming artists, and we’ve cruised Alaska with Dr. Stanley on his “In Touch” cruise. It’s an adventure, and we’re enjoying every minute of it!
AS: Jim, I understand the journey has been quite different than traveling with the Booth Brothers for over 10 years. How would you describe the journey changing to a mixed trio format rather than an all-male vocal configuration?
JB: Musically, the dynamic of a male trio verses a mixed trio is quite different. Singing with a female voice often requires a different voicing in the harmonies, as well as a different key signature. But I grew up singing in a mixed group, with my family, so the transition has been seamless and comfortable. Melissa and I have also sung together, since we were first married, and our vocal ranges work well together. So singing together comes naturally to us.
As far as the journey, road life is much the same as traveling with a male group, except I had to add more closet space on our bus to hold all of Melissa’s clothes & shoes!
AS: Your debut single, “Stepping Out in Faith” became the most-played song at radio for the year 2015. How did this song come to be? Was this written with the intention of being a debut release?
JB: Yes, we wrote that song to tell our story of starting a group together. We sat down in our living room, opened up our bibles and asked ourselves “Who in the bible inspired us with faith?” then wrote about the heroes of our faith, that have inspired us on this journey. This is still a favorite in concert every night.
AS: Since “Steppin’ Out in Faith”, the Jim Brady Trio has introduced or reintroduced a variety of songs like “Good Lord Willing,” “The Greatest of All Miracles,” and “That Sounds like Home to Me.” How do you find the balance between strong, modern music and the classics fans have come to love?
JB: People love songs they are familiar with so, in concert, we’ve found it’s very important to include some familiar songs, or classics, along with the new ones. We want the audience to relax, feel comfortable, and have an enjoyable evening. The best way we know to do that is to give them songs they know & love and came to the concert to hear. Being songwriters, we always have a new song we’re excited to debut, but we are careful to program a good mix of the classics with the new tunes, to give the evening or project variety.
AS: Melissa, many fans may not realize that the Jim Brady Trio isn’t your first time singing full-time. Back in the 90s you sang with Jim & your father, Jack, in the Shulers. How does it feel to come back with Jim and, now, Layke Jones?
Melissa Brady: It’s wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed those “good old days” of traveling with Dad and Jim, and I fully supported Jim as he made great music ministering with Ronnie and Michael. It was during my time at home that I found God using me in ways other than my music. It was a great reminder that God’s purpose for me isn’t just on a stage, it’s in allowing Him to use me in my every day life. I absolutely love singing, but I also love knowing God will use me in line at the grocery store, at the fast food drive through, or taking care of a family member in need. It’s about keeping my eyes open to the people God places in my life.
AS: Recently, the Jim Brady Trio released a music video for the single, “Homesick for Heaven.” I understand the personal nature of this song for the group. Share with us how this song came to be.
JB: After saying goodbye to three family members and two close friends in less than two years, more than ever, I find my heart missing them and longing for a place where there will be no more sad goodbyes, and no death, tears or pain. So, as a writer, I just wrote my heart. We recorded the song, but I had never sung it LIVE, then the day after Christmas I got a call with the heartbreaking news that my older brother had been killed in a car accident. His wife said he loved this song and asked me to sing it at his funeral service. Although, it was extremely difficult to get through the song that day, I was so grateful that it said exactly what everyone in the room was feeling, and was a reminder of the promise of heaven.
AS: Southern Gospel Music has embraced a variety of styles through the years. How has the Jim Brady Trio had to develop an identity in an industry full of similarity?
JB: I think God has given every person on earth something special and unique. Our group has found our niche through our songwriting. We can say what our hearts feel through the lyrics and showcase the message, musically, in a style we feel will best communicate to our audience. We listen to and love many artists in this industry and, though we are inspired and influenced by other artists, we work hard when writing or producing our music to put the extra work in to create something authentic and original.
AS: Layke, the term “new” is a rather familiar term in the Southern Gospel industry. How would you describe the experience of being “new” to the Southern Gospel world and the Jim Brady Trio?
Layke Jones: It’s funny, because I joined in June of 2016 and, within a matter of four weeks, I had sung in Canada, sailed/performed on Charles Stanley’s Alaskan cruise, and had begun tracking vocals for Promises, my first album with JBT! All this to say, I’ve quickly become acclimated to the life of a gospel artist, and have found that most of the “new” experiences that come with the job are gratifying! Some of my favorite experiences include singing in a backup choir for the Dove Awards and singing on the newest Gaither Homecoming DVD. Also, meeting fellow gospel artists, many of whom I’ve admired for years, has been especially memorable.
AS: In late 2016, the Jim Brady Trio released their newest studio album, Promises. Which songs have resonated well with fans?
JB: “Homesick For Heaven” has received the biggest response. It’s really been unbelievable, and I think it’s because we can all relate to the pain of saying goodbye. The song has a little different twist of addressing the hurt of separation with a gentle reminder that this is not our home and Heaven will be a reality. Scott Godsey of Daywind Records felt very strongly about this song, and asked us to do a video for it. We agreed, but had no idea the impact it would have on so many people. The video has currently had almost a half a million views and the comments and emails have flooded in non-stop. We’re thankful!
AS: What is the funniest thing that you’ve experienced while on the road?
JB: Last year, the first day Layke sang with us, we were performing in Knoxville, Tennessee at an event center that was hosting multiple events on the same day. At the time, our bus was white, which might explain what happened. We heard a knock on the door, I went to answer it, and a lady looked at me and said “I’m here for my mammogram!” Needless to say, I was speechless! When I found my voice, I pointed her toward the other white bus in the parking lot offering free mammograms. Throughout the day, women continued to confuse that bus with ours!
AS: What is the best way to contact the Jim Brady Trio?