Despite ‘crazy’ schedule, Jim Brady is loving his return home
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Regardless of where his career would take him, Jim Brady knew he would always be a Booth Brother.
And after some unexpected turns in The Booth Brothers’ road of ministry, he found himself right back where he’d become a household name in gospel music.
“The first time I was here, I spent 13 years with The Booth Brothers and I love the guys,” Brady remembers. “So it was a bittersweet thing because I loved being with The Booth Brothers and had a wonderful time. There were no issues or fights or anything. There was no reason why we would leave other than God was leading me into a new ministry with my wife.
“So one of the things they said to me then was, ‘Once a Booth Brother, always a Booth Brother.’”
That became reality late last year when Paul Lancaster, who had replaced Brady in the Booth lineup eight years earlier, decided to come off the road. Jim Brady was back with the Booths as the calendar turned to 2022.
We caught up with Jim Brady, along with Michael Booth and Buddy Mullins before they took the stage at Sand Spring Baptist Church on May 26.
Jim reflected on his return to The Booth Brothers and where ministry has been taking him in 2022 and where it might be headed in the future. He’s learned that while some things are different now, The Booth Brothers have never wavered from their ministry through music.
And Jim Brady can truly say “Once a Booth Brother, always a Booth Brother.”
That was apparent when Jim and The Booth Brothers reunited to sing one night. “The funny thing was that we were apart for 5 or 6 years before we ever sang together again,” Brady smiles. “When Michael, Ronnie and I got together and sang together after 5 or 6 years, it was like we were never apart.”
But Brady was – and continues to be – very happy working in ministry with his wife, Melissa, and when Michael Booth first called him about possibly returning to The Booth Brothers, Jim knew there would be some major challenges.
“They were like brothers to me,” Brady says, “and when Ronnie left early last year, when Ronnie retired, before Buddy came, Michael called me and asked me if I wanted to do it. I really wanted to but looking at the schedule, I just couldn’t make the schedules work. Melissa and I had been so blessed with a full schedule. We’re busy. God has blessed us so much in our ministry.”
Jim & Melissa are also regulars on the Gospel Music Hymn Sing, for which Jim is on the Board of Directors. They do 20 to 25 dates a year with the Hymn Sing tour.
So when Ronnie Booth announced his retirement from the road last spring, Jim decided the timing was not right to rejoin The Booth Brothers.
Several months later, Lancaster felt he needed to also come off the road. He’d lost his wife, Michelle, and a brother earlier in the year and said in a release from The Harper Agency, “The events of this year have taken a huge toll on my mental, spiritual, and physical well-being and made it difficult to give The Booth Brothers and our audiences my best.”
Again, Michael Booth went to Jim Brady’s spot on his contact list. “Michael came back to me again and said, ‘What do we have to do to make this work?’” Jim says. “So I said we need to meet with our booking agent – the same agency that books The Booth Brothers books Melissa and me.
“So we went to the agency and they said, ‘We believe we can make the dates work, especially if Michael will agree to it.”
When Jim’s return to The Booth Brothers was announced, the release noted that The Booth Brothers would be on a limited touring schedule so Michael, Buddy and Jim could continue with their individual ministries, but so far, it has been more than hectic.
“(The Harper Agency has) been making the dates work but in the first six months of this year, it has been crazy, I have gotta tell you. It’s been crazy. I have been jumping on a plane, jumping on a bus, getting in a car, getting places any way I can to make these dates work. The first six months of the year were already booked for both artists.”
However, Jim believes there should be less craziness as everyone gets more settled into the new schedule realities. “Now the second half of the year, things will start to lay a little better and things will start to make more sense because we are trying to keep the weekends for The Booth Brothers (as) The Booth Brothers and the weekends as Jim & Melissa for Jim & Melissa,” Brady says. “So the last half of the year slows down a little bit. I have been going like crazy but I love it. I love it!
“I would rather be busy than bored.”
And he’s happy to be an official Booth Brother again.
“I guess the real reason I came back is we are brothers,” Jim says. “Michael and I love each other like brothers. … It comes easy, but it’s work. We come together on stage and it seems right.”
While Jim had toured with Michael Booth for almost 13 years, working with Buddy Mullins was something new. But it was natural.
“I had never sung with Buddy, but I have known Buddy since I was a teenager,” Brady continues with a big smile. “We have known each other for years. In fact, my wife and Buddy knew each other before I knew my wife.
“My dad was an evangelist. Buddy’s dad was an evangelist. They traveled and sang, so we would meet up at camp meetings and revivals and the like. I never sang in a group with Buddy but I knew Buddy and we grew up together. I sang with Michael all those years, so coming back to this group is pretty natural for me.”
During the concert, the trio sang some Booth Brothers hits and some cuts from the latest album, “Take Another Step.” In many respects, the new lineup sounded very much like the old Booths. But there were times when the new group was putting its own stamp on the Booth style.
“Honestly, a lot is the same. Some things never change because Michael is as crazy as ever,” Brady says with a laugh. “He’s so unpredictable. Someone asked me recently what it was like to tour with Michael Booth. I said, ‘Well, the boy’s not right but he’s a whole lot of fun.’
“It’s the same in the fact that a lot of the music is familiar. There are some new songs, but the majority of what we sing are songs that people have grown to love in the whole career of The Booth Brothers and I was there for 13 years. We had a lot of big songs and a lot of songs kind of exploded in that time. A lot of those songs are still part of the program.”
But, as one would expect, Jim Brady misses Ronnie Booth. “The thing that would be different is Ronnie being gone. For me, Ronnie was just the meek, mild-mannered guy on the bus. What a great guy! He was just like a big brother to me.”
However, Brady says getting to know Mullins on a deeper level has been a huge blessing. “That’s been wonderful. I have known him, I will have to say I have known him as a friend, but never as a travel partner,” Jim says. “I knew Buddy’s talent. I knew Buddy as a friend. But to actually ride a bus with him and live with him and see his heart has been very exciting. The heart he has for ministry, the passion he has for working with the children in Hope for the World has been exciting.”
And that passion that Mullins and Jim Brady bring to The Booth Brothers means that the group’s mission is to share the gospel and minister to people. It’s about ministry.
It’s all about ministry! And that won’t change for The Booth Brothers or Jim Brady.
“Ministry is the first thing we are thinking,” Brady says. “There are entertainment elements to what we do. There has to be. But something I learned from my dad growing up, he was an evangelist, but his messages were entertaining. He would put humor, he would put illustrations in as he would speak. So I realized it’s all ministry because it’s all for one goal.
“All the tour bus, the recordings, the arrangements, the humor, all of the work and the effort comes down to bringing people to the Bible and the serious moment in history but it’s all done for ministry.
“The humor is a tool. A lot of people might think it’s not and it is the entertainment part, but the laughter is in the ministry part because people that come to the concerts are a lot of times hurting. If we can get them to laugh and to forget about the issues for a little bit, we can also get them to a serious point in the ministry that will help them. It’s not just something that will make them laugh in the concerts today but something that will help them tomorrow and the next day.”
It’s how it’s always been with The Booth Brothers. It’s how it’s always been with Jim Brady, too.
He’s living the life of “Once a Booth Brother, always a Booth Brother.”