When vocalists Marty McCall, Bonnie Keen and Melodie Tunney first met in the mid-1980s, they hopefully pitched themselves to studio producers in Nashville, TN as the “first call” background and commercial jingle singers. Initially intent on staying behind the scenes, the trio’s unique sound drew the attention of the Contemporary Christian recording industry, and they soon found themselves in the forefront of that music scene, recording and also touring with many of CCM’s premier artists.
Audiences came to love their unmistakeable and lush vocal blend, pristine harmonies and complex, artful arrangements. Songs like “Undivided,” “O Sifuni Mungu,” “The Reason We Sing,” ”Sweet Love”, “Something Takes Over” and “Lord of All” delighted their fans, fueled a faithful following and remain in the CCM hall of fame as classics of the era.
In the 30+ years since their first meeting, First Call has recorded 13 artist projects as well as numerous collaborative projects, earned three Gospel Music Association Dove awards and have been nominated for five Grammy awards. They also share a Grammy win with fellow contributors on the Andraé Crouch “Tribute” project, have performed on the Grammy Awards show, The Tonight Show, countless other TV and radio shows and have toured nationally and internationally.
Their journey has involved changes, challenges, and the ups and downs that come with any recording career, including changes in the group’s members. In 1990, Melodie departed to pursue a career with her husband, Dick Tunney, and Marabeth Jordon, a fellow session singer, joined the group’s ranks.
When Marabeth left the trio in 1994, Bonnie and Marty were approached by Warner Alliance Records and offered the opportunity to record a duo Christmas album, “Beyond December,” featuring guest vocals by artists such as Amy Grant, Larnell Harris, Wayne Watson, Ashley Cleveland, Russ Taff and original group member, Melodie Tunney. Marty and Bonnie also recorded a Warner Alliance self-titled project in 1996, toured as a duo, occasionally bringing along a guest vocalist to round out their sound.
Through the years, one thing remained — the abiding friendship between the original three members. So it was no surprise when, around 1999, coming full circle, Melodie rejoined Bonnie and Marty for a number of classic “Reunion” concerts. These concert seasons eventually led to more recording and the 2007 release of the trio’s first a cappella hymns CD, “Rejoice.”
Through the years, Marty, Melodie and Bonnie have each excelled in their own pursuits and individually have written and recorded solo projects, published books, acted on stage and screen, toured, been worship leaders, taught voice and drama, ministered to artists and musicians internationally and used a variety of artistic mediums to convey the gospel.
In 2015, Marty, Bonnie and Melodie were invited to participate in a CCM United DVD project, “We Will Stand,” which became one of the major industry events of the year, featuring 33 prominent artists who gathered to pay tribute to the enduring songs of the Contemporary Christian Music field. First Call was honored and blessed to perform alongside lifelong friends and artists with whom they have sung, recorded, shared tour-bus adventures, laughter, tears and a rich history of receiving God’s blessings and grace within the Christian music community.
The response by First Call fans from around the world to the CCM United event was one of resounding enthusiasm and inspired the trio to happily gather back in the studio to record a six-song EP, “Second Birth,” released in 2016. As musicians and partners in faith, the shared journey of these three friends will undoubtedly continue on as they enjoy their enduring alliance and their rich history of ministry and music.
1985 An Evening In December Vol. I – Dayspring
1986 Undivided – Dayspring
1987 An Evening In December Vol. II – Dayspring
1987 Something Takes Over – Dayspring
1989 God Is Good – Myrrh
1991 Human Song – Myrrh
1993 Sacred Journey – Myrrh
1993 La Razon De Cantar – Myrrh
1995 Beyond December – Warner Alliance
1996 First Call – Warner Alliance
1996 Y Comienza A Sanar – Warner Alliance
2006 Rejoice – Discovery House
2016 Second Birth (EP) – First Call
does not include multi-artist collaborations
Gospel Music Association Dove Awards
1986 Winner – Horizon Award
1986 Winner – Group of the Year
1987 Winner – Group of the Year
1988 Nominee – Group of the Year
1989 Nominee – Group of the Year
1997 Winner – Special Event Album – Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch
Grammy Awards/ Nominations
1986 Nominee – Best Performance by a Group or Duo – Undivided
1987 Nominee – Best Performance by a Group or Duo – An Evening In December, Vol. 2
1989 Nominee – Best Performance by a Group or Duo – God Is Good
1990 Nominee – Best Recorded Song by a Group or Duo – “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”
from (“Our Hymns”)
1997 Winner – Multi-Artist – Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch
First Call’s Music is available on iTunes