First Call

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First Call is a Contemporary Christian music (CCM) group, originally consisting of Mel Tunney, Marty McCall, and Bonnie Keen.[1] Mel's husband, Dick Tunney, acted as the arranger and producer for many of the group's early projects.


Group history

In the 1970s, McCall was a member of a band called Fireworks,[2] while Keen was pursuing a career in musical theater.[3] They met at a studio in Nashville, Tennessee, singing backup for other singers and recording commercial jingles. Dick Tunney met the two during such a session and struck up a friendship. He introduced them to his singer-wife, Melodie. The three saw a benefit in marketing themselves as a ready-made trio for backup vocals and other studio recordings. They were considered the "first call" by music producers—first choice for studio work. But the term also fit with their belief in making their Christian beliefs first in their lives.[4]

None of the three initially foresaw a recording or touring career. As a side project to their backing vocal careers, they agreed to record an a cappella Christmas album called An Evening In December. The album sold very well on the Contemporary Christian market, and propelled the trio into their own music projects.[4] Offers began to come in from high-profile CCM artists such as Amy Grant and Sandi Patty to join them on tour. Their first album of non-Christmas music, Undivided (1986), was followed by Something Takes Over (1987) and God Is Good (1989). The two Christmas music collections, An Evening in December Volume I (1985) and Volume II (1987), have long been bestsellers in the group's catalog. Many comparisons have been made to the group's style similarity to the recording group The Manhattan Transfer[5] and the New York Voices.

Around 1989, Melodie expressed a desire to try different styles of music, and left the group in 1990, yet continued her friendship with Marty and Keen.[4][6] Marabeth Jordan, another session singer, joined the group's ranks.[7]

The new lineup saw two successful albums, Human Song (1992) and Sacred Journey (1993). Then in 1994 came news that Jordan was involved in an affair with fellow CCM artist Michael English, both of whom were married to other people at the time. The media attention surrounding the affair cost First Call their record deal and Marabeth left the group shortly thereafter.[8]

After the incident, Melodie Tunney returned to the group for a short period to try to reduce damage to the group's image and complete their touring obligations. She also lent her vocals to several projects in which the group was currently involved. In late 1994, First Call acted as the backup group for David L. Cook's inspirational single, "When Heaven is My Home". The song was written and produced for Cook by Dick Tunney.

After signing with Warner Alliance, another Christmas album, 1995's Beyond December, and the eponymously titled album First Call of 1996 were recorded by Marty and Bonnie as a duo.[4]

After reuniting the original group to record two songs for some compilation projects, music publishers Discovery House signed the members of the original lineup to record together again. Their new collection, entitled Rejoice, was released in 2007.[4]

Marty McCall is currently the pastor of Vocal Ministries [9][10] at McLean Bible Church [11] in McLean, Virginia.


First Call was a recipient of GMA Dove Awards in the "Group of the Year" category for both 1988[12] and 1989.[13] They also have multiple Grammy nominations.[8]


YearAlbumMembers Who PerformedRecord Label
1985Evening in December as "First Call & Friends"Keen, McCall, TunneyWord
1986UndividedKeen, McCall, TunneyWord
1987Something Takes OverKeen, McCall, TunneyDayspring
1987An Evening in December, Vol. 2Keen, McCall, TunneyDayspring
1989God Is GoodKeen, McCall, TunneyWord
1992Human SongKeen, McCall, JordonEpic
1993Sacred JourneyKeen, McCall, JordonWord/Epic
1994La Razon de CantarKeen, McCall, JordonMyrrh
1995Beyond DecemberKeen, McCallWarner Alliance
1996First CallKeen, McCallWarner Bros.
2007RejoiceKeen, McCall, TunneyDiscovery House

Appearances on other albums


  1. ^ Original First Call[dead link]
  2. ^ Biography, Signpost Music
  3. ^ "Bonnie Keen Official Website". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Article, The Adams Group, "The Redemptive Journey of First Call"". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  5. ^ "Christianity Today, Music Review". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ by markwebermusic on 12/25/2011  •  (2011-12-25). "''Christian Music Today'', Article "Bonnie Keen: Bouncing Back"". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  8. ^ a b "Christianity Today". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  9. ^ Pastor of Vocal Ministries
  10. ^ admin (2010-07-26). "Pastor of Vocal Ministries". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  11. ^ "McLean Bible Church". Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  12. ^ Dove Awards 1988[dead link]
  13. ^ Dove Awards 1989[dead link]

External links