When Melodie Tunney, Bonnie Keen and Marty McCall first met in the mid 1980s, they were considered the “first call” background vocalists and commercial jingle singers by studio producers in Nashville, Tenn. Initially intent on staying behind the scenes, the trio’s pristine vocals couldn’t be contained in the background, and they soon found themselves thrust to the forefront of the burgeoning contemporary Christian music scene.
In the nearly 30 years since their first meeting, First Call has recorded 13 projects with Word Records and Warner Alliance, earned three Dove awards, been nominated for five Grammy awards, and toured nationally and internationally. Audiences hungry for their three-part vocal harmonies clamored for more as they sang about their faith with an unmistakeable sound often compared to that mainstream supergroup, Manhattan Transfer. Songs like “Undivided,” “The Reason We Sing,” “O Sifuni Mungu,” “Sweet Love” and “Sacred Journey” fueled audience demand for more of the trio’s pristine harmonies.
A theme of unexpected grace and unforeseen opportunities emerged to underscore the trio’s collaborative journey as First Call. Their journey involved changes, challenges, and the ups and downs that come with any recording career, including changes in the group’s members. One thing that never changed was the strong and abiding friendship between the original three members.
Individually, Marty, Melodie and Bonnie have recorded solo projects, published books, acted on stage and screen, toured and used a variety of artistic mediums to convey the gospel. In January 2015, the original members of First Call were invited to participate in a new DVD project, We Will Stand. The live DVD taping, which became one of the major industry events of the year, featured 33 prominent CCM artists who gathered to pay tribute to songs that live far past careers. That evening the trio revisited the power of singing with artists they’d recorded with, and shared tour bus adventures, lives of joy and sorrow and a rich history of receiving God’s grace.