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The inspiring story of Billy Davis Jr. and his wife Marilyn McCoo
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo at the MFI Praise Brunch in Beverly Hills
(Photo: Dan Wooding)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA (ANS) -- For all the secular success Billy Davis Jr., and Marilyn McCoo have enjoyed through the years - 7 Grammy awards, 15 gold, and 3 platinum albums, plus starring roles on television and stage, and sold-out concert, their relationship with God has much more importance to them. Their strong faith in Jesus Christ has guided them for many years, resulting in a more than 31-year marriage that is still going strong.
As lead vocalists of The 5th Dimension, they enjoyed success with such timeless classics as, "Up, Up, and Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Worst That Could Happen," "Wedding Bell Blues," "One Less Bell To Answer," and "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In." Yet, after a decade with the group, Marilyn & Billy had the courage to leave that security and set out on their own. Their second release as a duo, "You Don't Have To Be A Star," not only became a #1 hit, but also earned them a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance bya Duo. The album, "I Hope We Get To Love In Time," was quickly certified gold.
That success peaked network television interest and CBS premiered the "Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Show" as a prime-time summer series in 1977. Marilyn and Billy roared into the 1980s as an international success. They headlined in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Atlantic City, played to SRO crowds in concerts across the country, and won the prestigious Grand Prize at the international Tokyo Music Festival. Back home, they were sought-after guests on every major television show.
After spending nearly 15 years at the pinnacle of success, Marilyn & Billy's focus changed. They each began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Marilyn in December, 1980, Billy in February, 1981), asking Him to come into and direct their lives.
Now, after all their secular success, they have dedicated their lives to serving Christ in Hollywood with their gospel group, Soldiers for the Second Coming.
I caught up with this delightful couple recently at the Media Fellowship International 9th Annual Praise Brunch where they performed with Soldiers for the Second Coming before some 350 Hollywood insiders.
In an interview for Safe Worlds Good News IPTV Channel based in Irvine, California, I asked them about why they had made the change from their secular careers to Gospel music.
Billy Davis Jr., began by saying, "Soldiers for the Second Coming is a vision that the Lord gave me to start this ministry about nine years ago and I thought it was just going to be a regular ministry like all the other ministries that's out there, but the Lord said, 'No, it's not going to be that; you're going to have a praise ministry. All you're going to do is to give Me the praise and glory and you're going to give testimony about what I have done in your lives. And you will have people stand up and give that same testimony and you will sing songs to glorify me."
Marilyn McCoo then added, "One of the highlights for me is that I came into this with an attitude of being a professional and when I approach music I want it to be sung correctly; I want all the notes to be right; I want everybody to be committed like I am. And The Lord had to show me that, yes, the music is important, but what's even more important is the dedication. So we ended up with people who weren't necessarily professional singers, but they are so dedicated in a way that I've never seen before. It is the kind of dedication that we did not get from the professional singers that we had tried to get into our group.
"And the Lord also showed me that it's not about that, it's about who loves Him and who wants to praise Him; and that was a very important lesson for me."
I then asked these veterans of show business why they thought so many of the younger stars in Hollywood were constantly getting into trouble.
Billy Davis Jr. replied, "Well, first of all, they really have no guidance in their lives. A lot of kids see all this fame and they see people making money and they glorify this. What happens is they don't really know what it takes to be famous; they just hear it; they just see it, and that's what they want. They don't know what it really takes to be successful in this business."
Marilyn McCoo then added, "A lot of young people think that, along with this fame, comes being loved by the world, but what they don't realize is that that there's a kind of betrayal that happens in this business. First, you become famous and everyone loves you, and then they start watching you very closely and then they start picking apart your behavior and then they start to not love you anymore, and then they start to criticize you.
"That's what we've seen with a lot of the young people. They don't understand that fame and glory are fleeting they think that it's going to give them the answer to everything that they're searching for in their lives and fame is not it."
I then asked her if this was what happened when she entered show business.
"Yes," she said, "but I came from a perspective of loving music. I did not come into the business with the idea of wanting to become famous. I just wanted to sing and that was my passion. The only thing that fame was going to allow me was the opportunity to do the kind of work that I wanted to do.
"So, years ago, we got into the business because we loved the work, but today the children don't even understand about the work. They love the fame and that's where they get confused."
Billy Davis Jr., then interjected, "If you don't know what you want to be famous for like singing, acting, dancing, playing ball or whatever, you have to study it; you have to take the time and it's got to be your passion. If not, then just be a banker because fame on its own doesn't mean anything."
Cliff Richard and Marilyn McCoo singing a duet on Solid Gold
Now warmed up to the topic, Marilyn added, "The joy is in the work while fame is superficial; the joy is in what you do. Like you enjoy talking to people, you enjoy sharing ideas with people and that's what motivates you, Dan."
Billy then said, "I would like to say one of the other things is that fame comes and goes you know but your work goes on because the passion of your work just continues and continues. But fame it could be here it could be there you know it's not promised to us."
Back in the 1980s, Marilyn McCoo hosted the hit American TV show, Solid Gold and a regular co-host was Cliff Richard, the British Christian singer. Although Richard was a hit around the world, he never seemed to quite break into the American market, and I reminded her that she had once told Cliff (now Sir Cliff Richard) that he needed to move to the States for an extended period. He politely declined, she said.
I asked her what her message was to Cliff today and she replied, "I miss your voice. I know you're doing well and I know you're blessing people like you blessed us when you came on Solid Gold and I just want to say we love you. God bless you Sir Cliff."
And Billy added, "Come on back to America soon."
Their website can be found at www.mccoodavis.com.
Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. email@example.com.
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