“For I know the plans I have for you… Plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
It’s been quite some time since the Gospel Music world has seen the merger of such a talented musical force. Of course, it was a merger that those close to the source felt certain would eventually happen; however, no one knew just exactly when. It was one that was destined to happen many years before it ever took place, as the ministry it is today. Nevertheless, those close to Jim and Melissa Brady have known for many years that when God united this young couple in marriage, He had great plans for them.
Long before the two met, it’s easy to see how God was ordaining every step, leading them to each other and to a ministry that would honor Him. They came from very similar backgrounds, each possessing a rich musical heritage. Jim first began singing with his family at the age of five and was writing songs by the time he turned 16. Melissa was an integral part of her musical family, The Shulers, long before she and Jim met, and when the two married, Jim joined Melissa and her family, traveling, singing and ministering across the country. For nearly a decade the two traveled together with The Shulers, and then came the opportunity for Jim to join another very talented group, The Booth Brothers.
The Booth Brothers were just beginning to step onto the national scene, and had already enjoyed several radio hits. Jim could see a bright future with brothers, Ronnie and Michael. “This was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up, and thankfully, Melissa was 100% supportive,” Jim reflects.
The decision proved to be the perfect move. During Jim’s twelve and a half years with The Booth Brothers, the trio became a favorite among Southern Gospel audiences, collectively earning more than 100 industry honors and accolades. Jim personally has received multiple Baritone of the Year Awards, as well as several Songwriter of the Year Awards. He has also written several Number One songs and has enjoyed Dove and Grammy Award nominations. To say that Jim’s time with The Booth Brothers solidified his place at the pinnacle of Gospel Music would be an understatement, and his time with Ronnie and Michael is a time he will treasure forever. “The last twelve and a half years have meant more to me than words could ever express. Ronnie and Michael have become brothers to me, and I will be forever thankful for the great times spent with them.”
While Jim and The Booth Brothers were evolving and rising to the top of the Southern Gospel Music ladder, one constant for Jim was his wife, Melissa. She faithfully supported her husband’s calling to The Booth Brothers, and the two enjoyed singing and ministering together in churches and concerts when Jim’s schedule permitted. Jim’s schedule typically took him away from home more than 100 dates each year, but Melissa, too, found herself extremely busy.
Melissa and Jim started to write more and more songs together, and possess a catalog that presently contains more than 200 songs. She holds a Master’s certificate in Songwriting from Berkley School of Music, and her Homecoming Day hit radio release was named Song of the Year by Absolutely Gospel. Additionally, Melissa became a regular columnist for The Singing News, Gospel Music Quarterly and Homecoming magazines, and she has toured with such popular artists as The Hoppers, The Martins and Mark Lowry. She is the host of the Something Beautiful Women’s Conference and was also featured on the Women of Homecoming Gaither Videos that were released in 2013. “I know I am probably rather biased,” Jim says with a big smile, “but when Melissa steps on stage to sing, or when she puts a pen to paper to write a song or when she walks into her kitchen filled with family, the energy of the room rises because of her enthusiasm and her love for people. She has so many God-given talents, and I am so blessed to call her my wife and ministry partner.”
In the summer of 2014, Jim and Melissa felt the time was right to answer a new call and to embark upon a brand-new ministry. Thus, came the announcement that Jim would be leaving The Booth Brothers to join his wife in forming The Jim Brady Trio. With the complete support of longtime friends, Ronnie and Michael Booth, Jim and Melissa began the search for just the right ministry partner.
In God’s timing, Layke Jones came to the Jim Brady Trio amid high recommendations from some of the industry’s finest, as well as a sparkling resume of achievements and accolades. A graduate of Anderson University, Layke hails from central Indiana where he has been heavily involved in professional vocal work. In addition to spending several years as a singer at Cedar Fair’s Kings Island in Ohio, he is also a highly sought after studio vocalist. He has recorded vocals for artists such as Sandi Patty, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, and was a guest vocalist on a project with the Grammy award winning Gaither Vocal Band, as well as a featured vocalist for the Anderson Symphony Orchestra, performing alongside noted Christian musicians, Jay and Amy Rouse. When not lending his vocals in the studio, this young man stays busy as a trombonist, a choreographer for a number of local schools in the Indiana/Ohio area, and as a vocal coach and a worship leader.
Jim Brady shares, “It’s not every day a voice like this comes along? Layke is an exceptionally talented young man with a deep passion for this music and we’re thrilled to have him as part of our team.”
Bill Gaither adds, “I have been watching Layke Jones develop as an artist for a few years now as a student at Anderson University and I believe there is something very special about him. His voice and his spirit are equally excellent additions to this fine trio; spearheaded by my good friends, Jim and Melissa Brady. The future is bright for the Jim Brady Trio.