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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 14, 2001

Avalon headed toward mainstream popularity

• At press time, Avalon's concert was still on, pending resumption of airline flights. Please call Hawai'i Theatre for more details.

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer

Avalon – from left, Janna Long, Jody McBrayer, Cherie Paliotta and Michael Passons – will perform this weekend at the Hawai'i Theatre. Paliotta cites a Newsweek article as evidence of the genre's claim to a rapidly growing audience.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Avalon with Greg Long and Junko

7:30 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday

Hawai'i Theatre



Avalon vocalist Cherie Paliotta credits the rising popularity of Christian music to an increase in styles and greater attention to production values.

"For the longest time, Christian music was just stuck in this rut, production-wise," said Paliotta, via telephone from her Nashville, Tenn., home, the sound of pots and pans banging in the background. "They were using the same (producers and musicians) on every album, the same producing style. Within the last four or five years, though, there's just been this explosion of Christian music that has transcended the boundaries the industry had placed on itself for many years."

For Avalon — who are heading a couple of contemporary Christian concerts at the Hawai'i Theatre this weekend — the changes have translated into having the go-ahead to hire top mainstream producers and musicians from outside Nashville, which in addition to being the home of country music, is also Christian music central. Avalon enlisted no less than the London Symphony Orchestra and London Boy Choir for its 2000 holiday album "Joy: A Christmas Collection."

Formed in 1995 by leading contemporary Christian label Sparrow Records, Avalon has recorded five albums. Released in June, Avalon's latest CD "Oxygen" became the quartet's fastest seller, debuting at No. 37 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart with first week sales of 33,419 units.

Paliotta is thrilled by the increasing demand for Christian albums in recent years and growing mainstream media attention to the music. She mentions a July Newsweek cover story, titled "Jesus Rocks," as proof of Christian music's increasing appeal to mainstream audiences.

"It's encouraging to me when artists such as ourselves, Audio Adrenaline or Michael W. Smith get recognized at the Grammys, or when an artist like Rachel Lampa gets asked to appear on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' " said Paliotta. "It's a stamp of approval saying that no matter what the message is about, or if one agrees with that message, that this music is quality music."