Avalon Founder to Leave Group

The founding member of one of Christian music's most famous groups, Avalon, has now announced that he will be leaving the musical foursome over physical illness.

Jody McBrayer, who has been with the band since it first began 12 years ago, announced his departure on the group's website.

"The past 12 years have been such a tremendous blessing, and I am thankful for the opportunities I've been given as part of this amazing group," explained McBrayer on the website. "While the decision to leave Avalon saddens me, I feel that it is necessary in order to prolong my health both for myself and my family. I am so thankful for the love and support that my family has received from Janna, Greg and Melissa [other group members] through this challenging time in our lives."

The singer was diagnosed with a heart condition in March known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyoparthy. It is a manageable disease, but it influences a person's ability to do physical work, which is a problem for a music performer.

McBrayer decided to call it quits after much prayer and long talks with his family, doctors, and his fellow group mates. He felt that it was more important to concentrate on his health and family at this time.

"I am saddened to see Jody leave Avalon," expressed Janna Long, female Avalon vocalist, on the website. "He has walked this amazing road with me from the very beginning. And while we will all miss him tremendously as an outstanding vocalist and friend, I know it is in his best interest to step down and take care of himself. Even though he will not be performing with us, we all look forward to his friendship lasting a lifetime."

Before he leaves, McBrayer will finish up the group's ongoing studio recording, which is expected to release in September. The CD will be a collection of popular Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) songs which each group member has felt impacted them in their personal and professional lives.

Among some of the songs will be "Another Time, Another Place," "El Shaddai," "For the Sake of the Call," and "The Reason We Sing."

McBrayer will also travel with Avalon to the end of its 40-city tour which is currently going on. It will end on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.

Avalon, which has been often praised for its melodic singing, has had a successful career. Among other miscellaneous awards, the group has received three Grammy nominations and taken home six Dove Awards, the highest award for a Christian artist. Avalon will still continue to make music following McBrayer's departure.