Local gospel singer is a servant of Christ

Friday, July 25, 2014

By Ivory Riner

Tribune intern

Lewisburg resident John McCall delivers the message of God by singing tenor in the Steve Hess & Southern Salvation gospel group.

Born in 1972, McCall lived in Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, and Illinois. He started his career as a singer at age four in churches with his mother, Marilyn McCall. At 13 he started a rock band and played in clubs and bars in Chicago until he was 17.

Despite his mother's requests and prayers, he continued to run from his Christian upbringings. Growing success was rapidly joined by a drug and alcohol problem. At 17, McCall was given the opportunity to sign with a record label in New York City, where he was told he and his band would be "the next big thing."

McCall told his mother, "I don't want to have anything to do with you, church, or God ever again."

That same year, 1989, he was involved in a motorcycle accident. A drunk driver pulled out in front of him, causing him to fly through the air, where a semi hit him in mid-air, causing him to fly another 50 feet. The paramedics lost him twice. When arriving at the hospital, the doctor had no luck after working on him for 45 minutes. McCall's 17 years of life had finally come to an end. His mother and father were called into the trauma room where the doctor told them their son had died. Instead of blaming the doctors for not saving their son, his mother Marilyn said, "You did not pray." She then prayed over her son's lifeless body. Without having oxygen through his body for an hour, the nurse came in the room and prepared him for the morgue. In the midst of the nurse tagging McCall's toe, he sat up. McCall was now alive through the grace of someone he had lost his faith in -- God.

His parents were told he would be a vegetable for the remainder of his life, but God had other plans for McCall.

After one year of rehab, he could walk, talk, and think again.

"Miracles still happen today, and God is still in the business of answering prayers. God is still the same yesterday, today, and forever," said McCall.

He has now played around the world with gospel groups like The Stamp Quartet, Palmetto State Quartet, and Brothers Forever Trio.

He is currently the tenor for Steve Hess & Southern Salvation. The gospel trio features Steve Hess, who also struggled with a drug addiction in his younger years, and Jay Arview from Illinois. Together they have been featured in "Singing News," a national southern gospel magazine. Their song, "Mountain of Grace" -- written by 2013 Songwriter of the Year Diane Wilkinson -- hits the national Top 80 charts in August at No. 60. The gospel group was also featured on Paul Heil's syndicated radio program, "The Gospel Greats," which was heard by millions of listeners worldwide. McCall says that Hess has a jive and swing background, Arview's is country, and his is rock, which has allowed everything to come together in a unique blended sound.

"As a group we aren't a 'look what we can do' or 'listen to how good we sound,' it's more about delivering the message of grace, and the power of prayer, which is still true today," said McCall. He said after every concert he, Hess, and Arview always have an altar call in which they invite hurting people to the altar and have the pastors pray with them.

With 200 plus concerts a year, McCall insists the group's success was purely based upon answered prayers and God's favor. Their latest CD, "Living Proof," hits iTunes in August and will also be featured in Lifeway Christian bookstores. People can also find their CD at their concerts, or at their website www.SouthernSalvation.com.

This Sunday, July 27, they will have a concert/video shoot at Victory Baptist church in Mt. Juliet at 5 p.m.

After losing faith in God and going through a dark spot in his life, McCall now attends church every Wednesday at New Life Community Church here in Lewisburg, where his mother plays piano. He plans on continuing his career as a gospel singer to inspire all who will listen.

McCall concludes, "I'm a Servant of Christ, disguised as a Gospel Singer ... nothing more, nothing less."