I recently had the opportunity to interview Beyond the Ashes’ tenor/manager, Anthony Facello:
DJM: Your website bio mentions that you listened to Paul Heil’s The Gospel Greats as a child. Was that your first exposure to Southern Gospel music, or just one of the strongest early influences?
Anthony: Actually I was exposed to Southern Gospel by my family. My Dad and Uncle had a part-time Southern Gospel group that traveled and sang and that is where I started. Paul Heil was a very strong influence for me growing up. I remember taping Paul’s program and I would listen to them over and over. I am thankful for all of the radio DJ’s that get this music out so we all can be influenced.
DJM: What groups were particularly influential in sparking your desire to sing?
Anthony: Growing up Gold City was a huge influence on my career. It was a dream come true when I started singing full-time with Heaven Bound that my second night singing with them we were in concert with no other than Gold City (Brian, Ivan, Steve, Tim and Garry.) Daniel needless to say I was a nervous little kid!
DJM: Your stint with the Journeymen was probably your first introduction to many Southern Gospel fans. Was that the first professional group you were with? (Side note: I asked this question before coming across a Heaven Bound video several weeks ago!)
Anthony: Actually, Heaven Bound was the first professional group I was ever with back in the early 90’s and they were a very popular group back then. I was only a kid of 18 years and I was living my dream and calling.
DJM: What were some of the highlights of your time with the Journeymen? Do any particularly moving or funny memories come to mind?
Anthony: My time with the Journeymen was a wonderful experience and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. I remember the very first time we sang on the NQC stage. Larry Goss had just produced some of our CD and the big song at that time was “We Will Not Fail.” The electricity in the convention hall was so thick and the spirit fell that night for us.
DJM: My first exposure to you was through Mercy’s Mark—and the first time I heard your voice, to my knowledge, was on the magnificent acapella rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” that opened their self-titled debut project. “His Response,” from that same album, has become somewhat of a signature song for you. What was your thought the first time you heard the song? And—having sung it for nearly a decade since—what does it mean to you today?
Anthony: “His Response” is a Kyla Rowland song so that in itself speaks volumes. I remember when we got the demo from Daywind. I will be honest, we actually passed on it at first but then came back to it and said “yes this is for us.” This song has always spoke to me personally and that is why I sing still today occasionally. “What a sinner was I, what a lost hungry soul when I approached calvary to see, if the story I heard was true to God’s word could Jesus pardon a sinner like me? His response was redemptive, His answer was love oh how could I ever be sad. Looking back to Mt. Calvary, looking back from where He brought me. His response was redeemed and I’m glad.” Daniel, this lyric speaks for itself.
DJM: You’ve been in professional Southern Gospel for nearly twenty years—most of that time, touring full-time. Honestly, most tenors don’t make it that long. Now I’m not a tenor, but probably about half of my male readers either are or wish they were! What have you done—from a standpoint of technique, of pacing yourself, or whatever else might come to mind—to preserve your voice this long?
Anthony: That is a very interesting and great question. Being a tenor is not easy all the time and can be very taxing on a voice especially as we get older. I am always conscience of my vocals and I focus on vocal and physical health. I have been fortunate to have studied under great vocal coaches such as Brett Manning and Steve Hurst. Your voice is a muscle and just like an athlete trains to become better and sustain we need to do the same for our voice.
DJM: What are some of your favorite Southern Gospel songs—current or classic—which you count as personal favorites but would never think of performing yourself?
Anthony: I would have to say current is The Greenes “When God Has Another Plan.” The lyric in this song is so powerful and Taranda’s delivery is awesome and I could never attempt to sing it after her. I love songs like this that speak to us and honestly that is just good music.
DJM: Why did you start your own group instead of finding an open position with another? What is the mission of Beyond the Ashes?
Anthony: Honestly I feel like this is what God wanted me to do. I would have never taken on the enormous responsibility if it wasn’t for that. I have a vision for BTA being a group that will cross some genre’ barriers and attract new audiences to this music. We want to touch lives and do great music.
DJM: You recently released your first major-label project, Treasures Unseen, with Vine. What’s your personal favorite track from the project?
Anthony: We are so excited about this new CD produced by Wayne Haun. I has been a long dream to work with Wayne on a full project and God totally worked this out. I would have to say my personal favorite is “Tough As Nails” written by Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey. Not only is the production and orchestration amazing on this track, the lyric hits home for me personally.
DJM: How can fans get in touch with you?
Anthony: The best way to find out more about Beyond The Ashes or keep up with us is through our website at www.beyondtheashesonline.com.
For Scheduling BTA:
Thank you, Daniel, for everything you do for Southern Gospel music, it is people like you that help keep this music alive.
DJM: Thank you! Writing about it is the easy part! Driving hundreds of miles every weekend, set-ups, late-night tear-downs, and bus payments—now that’s the hard part!