Twelve years. Jim Brady spent more than 12 years of his life singing, sharing, laughing and living with the Booth Brothers. His mellow baritone and incredible range made him fit in the group like another brother. However, beginning January 1, 2015, he followed God’s call to begin his own journey with his wife Melissa, and Tim Parton. So the obvious question is…why?
“Well it’s been a dream of (mine),” Brady begins. “My wife and I actually sang together as The Shulers. Her father was an evangelist, and we did revivals, crusades and churches; a little bit of concert work and a lot of church work.”
After 10 years, Melissa’s father came off the road. Jim and Melissa continued as The Shulers with a man who would play a role in Jim’s future: Paul Lancaster. Then came the call that would alter Jim’s life significantly. The Booth Brothers asked him to fill in until they found another singer.
“After about three weeks of filling in, my wife came to me and said, ‘you know what, if you think that’s where God wants you, then I’m behind you.’ The Bradys had just built a home close to her parents and Melissa’s father was ill. Jim wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. In fact, he didn’t even consider it.
“Melissa said, ‘you know my home is wherever you are and if you feel like this is God opening a door for you, I don’t want to hold you back.’ We felt like God had opened up a great door and I didn’t realize He was doing that, because I was truly just going to help the guys because I loved them and respected them. So, after a few weeks of filling in I said to the guys, ‘If you guys are interested, you know, I’d be interested.’” Then Michael and Ronnie Booth admitted that they hadn’t actually auditioned anyone else. Jim Brady was officially a Booth.
“The first night I ever sang with the guys was with the Gaithers in Nashville. I met Bill on stage, in front of all those people.” Jake Hess was there, and told Brady that he really “fit” with the Booths. “That was a great compliment. You know, I’m nervous, I’m around all these heroes of mine and Mosie Lister, the great legendary songwriter, said to me: ‘you could be a (Booth) Brother, you sound like a Brother.’” Terrific compliments, from a couple of gentlemen who embodied Gospel music.
Jim Brady had an amazing start with the trio that would take his voice and his music to the top of the charts and to the heart of every listener. Many thought the three men would continue on until they rode off into the sunset together.
One of those, however, was not Michael Booth. “It’s one of these things that we always knew was a possibility because he had his own group before he came with us. So we are just grateful for the amount of years we got,” says Michael. “You can’t fault a guy for wanting to be working with his wife! She has spent an enormous amount of time alone. With our [Ronnie and Michael’s] wives, we have children. Ronnie’s are grown and out of the house, but my wife home schools our kids and although it is hard for her to do that job by herself, she is not alone. She has the burden of being the guy and the gal, raising our kids by herself. But for Melissa it got pretty lonely.”
Michael immediately adds, “We want to make sure everybody understands that it was not a situation where Melissa talked her husband into quitting the Booth Brothers. That was NOT the case. I think it was Jim realizing that if he was ever going to do it, he needed to do it now. We are just grateful we got almost 13 years to sing with him.”
Brady knew it was the right time. “I felt like God was really putting it on Melissa’s and my heart to do this ministry. God has opened up doors for her and I, the last couple of years. It was hard to tour with the Booth Brothers and then do what we wanted to. We have a Ladies’ Ministry and conferences that she does. We do a lot of traveling together, banquets and marriage conferences.”
The Booth Brothers were doing 150 concerts a year, which kept the Bradys apart for 200 days a year. “The reason ‘now’ is the right time is because first of all, I’m not getting any younger, and we cherish the moments we have together. We can now minister and do what God has called us to do – together – for those 200 days. You can’t get those back.”
How does it feel to begin again? “It’s a leap of faith, it’s exciting, it’s crazy and it’s hectic right now, but I feel like it’s the right thing. Once we made that decision, we just had peace that God was leading every step of the way.”
“It’s hard to leave. This is a great job! When you think about the familiar and the safe and it’s all laid out for me; all I do is walk on the bus.” With the Booth Brothers, everything was provided that the Jim Brady Trio may not have at the first, from the sound engineer to the driver to the product person. “I just walk on stage and they hand me my mike and I sing, and it’s very easy. It’s awesome, it’s been rewarding to do this but I’m in some ways starting over and now it’s all up to me to do all that.”
Sometimes when God asks you to leap, it doesn’t make sense. “You walk through those doors and He provides, and He opens. It’s been amazing the doors He’s already opened, the concerts that are being booked. It’s like the floodgates of heaven have opened up and He’s given us the opportunity that we had hoped for.”
“So you take that leap of faith, and I don’t know why we’re surprised, we know God says He’ll take care of us and walk with us and it’s funny how we’re surprised when He does.” The Jim Brady Trio has signed on with the Harper Agency, the same booking agency that works with the Booth Brothers. The dates are coming in fast.
“Our first date is at Opryland Hotel with Legacy Five. It’s kind of neat; December 31st is Paul Lancaster’s first day with the [Booth Brothers] and I’ll do a little bit (with them) that night. The very next day is our first date as the Jim Brady Trio. It’s kind of a goodbye and then the start of a new chapter of my life.” On January 4th, the Trio is scheduled to be Dr Charles Stanley’s church. “What a way to start out! God has opened the doors and we hope to walk through them and just be faithful.”
The Jim Brady Trio is working hard to get their new music to their audience. They have completed a project that was recorded in four days, over the Thanksgiving break, and Daywind will release it, with the first single to be determined. At press time it was tentatively self-titled, but Brady says that may change.
“We wrote a lot for this project, and a couple of songs were written directly to where we’re at right now in our life (lives). One of the songs is just called, ‘Stepping Out in Faith.’ There’s another one called, ‘The God of What’s to Come.’ We wrote it specifically for what our life is right now. We pulled a few songs that I’ve written through the years that I felt would fit, and what we need for our live performances right now. I did some familiar songs that I’ve written that [people] would know and then we pulled some classics, then the rest are fresh and new.”
Brady wanted to make sure all the songs were exactly right for the new Trio. As a prolific songwriting couple, it was hard to decide between all of their ‘babies.’ “You know you kind of love your ‘kids’ the best. We didn’t want to play favorites, so we bounced it off a lot of friends. So Scott Godsey and Ed Leonard, and the people at Daywind have been really helpful to give opinions and ideas of what would be the best. I think we’ve got the right collection. We’re excited!”
At first it was surprising for Booth Brothers’ fans to see who the new voice would be in the Jim Brady Trio, a man who has been known more for his piano work than his vocals. Jim first met Tim Parton when Parton was with the Missouri family group, The Lesters.
“I’ve known him all these years, but we toured together for several years with the Christmas Jubilee tour and then the regular Jubilee tours, because he was part of Legacy Five. When we recorded all those Jubilee projects, he was arranging and producing and we became great friends. Through the years we’ve just worked together; even on some Booth Brother dates, Tim would be opening, playing the piano, and then he’d sing a little.”
Jim and Melissa invited Parton to join them in their Nashville conferences entitled Something Beautiful. “We’ve worked with him on stage, in the studio, we’ve had him in our home, so we just felt a good connection with Tim. Not only is he an unbelievable talent, he’s also a great singer, and he’s just a great guy. He’s just a great human being; he has a sweet, gentle spirit. We loved him and we knew that the personalities would click. When we started singing, the blend just worked. There’s something magical that happens when three voices blend well together and that’s one of the things that the Booth Brothers have been known for and people love, is that chemistry that those voices have. We actually talked to him about coming before we ever sang together. When we did, it felt right. You know as a singer if you think you can blend with somebody, and then more than that, you got to think about living together on the road in a 45-foot bus or 40-foot motor home.”
“Whatever you’re in, you’re in tight quarters, so you have to be able to get along, work together, and be like-minded in ministry as well as music. We knew that with Tim we would also connect spiritually and in ministry.” The Bradys knew that there would be harmony with Parton on and off the stage.
As exciting as this new leap of faith is for the Bradys, Jim says that there are things he will miss, from the Booths, to their driver, to all the men who work with them. “I’ll miss those moments of fun with these guys. The music has been wonderful. It’s those moments on stage that are so priceless to me: when you feel God working, and you feel the song with the audience. I’ll miss that. I’ll miss the laughs on the bus I’m sure, because we absolutely had a wonderful time.”
“My wife and I love to be together and there’s nothing like it, it’s just wonderful, but I think sometimes you get out with the guys and you laugh a little more and it’s different. We’ll have that too, it’ll just be a different dynamic.”
The Jim Brady Trio’s goals are much the same as the Booth Brothers’ and as Jim’s personal goals: to bring hope. “It seems like everywhere you turn, people are hopeless; tragedies are happening, and they feel like they have no hope. But we want to remind people that there is hope, there’s always hope in Christ. It’s more than success, if you can help an audience, help a Christian in their walk with the Lord, to know that it’s not just about the here and now. You can remind them of the things we have to look forward to. It’s significant when you help people for eternity; whether it is salvation for those that do not know the Lord, or just encouragement for those who do know the Lord, who are going through a hard time. That’s really what I would love, that would be huge to us if we felt that we could do that successfully. That would be fulfilling for us.”
Find out more about the Jim Brady Trio HERE
Visit the SGN Scoops website to read a follow-up story called Getting Personal with Jim Brady HERE
By Lorraine Walker
First published by SGN Scoops in January 2015. Download this issue HERE.