First Call

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First Call
Origin Nashville, Tennessee
Genres Contemporary Christian music
Past members Marty McCall
Bonnie Keen
Mel Tunney
Marabeth Jordan

First Call was an American 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[edit]

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 was the pastor of Vocal Ministries at McLean Bible Church for 16 years and now is a freelance worship and vocal coach. [9][10] [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]


Year Album Members Who Performed Record Label
1985 Evening in December as "First Call & Friends" Keen, McCall, Tunney Word
1986 Undivided Keen, McCall, Tunney Word
1987 Somethin' Takes Over Keen, McCall, Tunney Dayspring/Word
1987 An Evening in December, Vol. 2 Keen, McCall, Tunney Dayspring/Word
1989 God Is Good Keen, McCall, Tunney Dayspring/Word
1992 Human Song Keen, McCall, Jordon Myrrh/Word/Epic
1993 Concert Medley Keen, McCall, Jordon Myrrh/Word
1993 Sacred Journey Keen, McCall, Jordon Myrrh/Word/Epic
1994 La Razón de Cantar Keen, McCall, Jordon Myrrh/Word/Epic
1995 The Early Years Keen, McCall, Tunney Myrrh/Word
1995 Beyond December Keen, McCall Warner Alliance
1996 First Call Keen, McCall Warner Bros.
1996 Comienza a Sanar Keen, McCall Warner Bros.
2000 Friends Forever Keen, McCall, Tunney Ministry Music
2006 Rejoice Keen, McCall, Tunney Discovery House
2007 First Call: The Definitive Collection Keen, McCall, Tunney Word

Appearances on other albums[edit]

  • 1988 Prism: Red (Reunion Records) "If You're Happy And You Know It"
  • 1989 Our Hymns (Word) "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded"
  • 1990 Our Christmas (Word) "Angels We Have Heard on High"
  • 1990 Handel's Young Messiah (Word) "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted"
  • 1992 Wings of Victory - Glen Campbell (New Haven)
  • 1993 Breakaway Praise 2 (Joyful Heart) "I Wanna Thank You Lord," "I Love You Lord"
  • 1993 The New Young Messiah (Sparrow Records) "Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion"
  • 1993 David T. Clydesdale presents One Special Christmas (Word) "We Need A Little Christmas (Medley)"
  • 1996 Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch (Word) "Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus"
  • 1997 The Dan Oxley Praise Band (Brentwood Records) "Bless The Lord"
  • 1998 Artists Acappella - The Signature Songs (Here to Him Music) "Undivided"
  • 2004 Hands Lifted High: Classic Worship Songs with Dennis Jernigan & Friends (Shepherd's Heart Music) "Who Can Satisfy My Soul"
  • 2005 Pressing On: Songs Inspired by the Journey of the Apostle Paul (Discovery House Music) "Three Days Blind," "Living Sacrifices," "Nothing Can Separate Us"


  1. ^ Original First Call Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Biography, Signpost Music
  3. ^ "Bonnie Keen Official Website". Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Article, The Adams Group, "The Redemptive Journey of First Call"". Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Christianity Today, Music Review". Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  6. ^ Archived August 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ markwebermusic on (December 25, 2011). "''Christian Music Today'', Article "Bonnie Keen: Bouncing Back"". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Christianity Today". Christianity Today. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ Pastor of Vocal Ministries
  10. ^ "Pastor of Vocal Ministries". July 26, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  11. ^ "McLean Bible Church". Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  12. ^ Dove Awards 1988 Archived October 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Dove Awards 1989 Archived October 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]