Anthony Facello, founder of the Gospel trio Beyond the Ashes, has been singing professionally for two decades. "I knew, from an early age, that this is what God wanted me to do," Facello told this writer, in an interview with The Christian View. "My parents took me to see a Christian concert when I was about 11 or 12, and, while sitting in the audience, I knew that this is what I wanted to do and what God called me to do." The Baltimore, Maryland native began singing with part-time groups at the age of 15, and then, in 1993, at age 18, he began singing full-time with the Gospel group Heaven Bound, based in Kinston, North Carolina.
A love for singing came early. "Probably the best memory that I have of growing up in church was the very first time I ever got up in front of a congregation or a group of people to sing," he said. "My cousin and I sang "He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands." I remember that very vividly."
Musical influences early in his life included his father, Roger Facello, and his uncle, Johnny Facello. "They had a little group that would travel on the weekends, and I would always hop on the bus with them and go," he said. "That’s where I got my love and my passion for this, which ultimately became my calling from God. My father and uncle were very influential in my life musically, because that’s where I really learned how to sing.
"My mother, Diane Powers, was there for support and loved me. She wasn’t a singer, but she was always supportive in what I did and would love me through all of the transitions of moving. Being 18 and moving away from home, to jump on a bus with people I didn’t know – that was an eye-opening experience. My parents were very loving and were always there to encourage me and let me know that it was okay and that I was doing what God called me to do."
Facello has many favorite Gospel songs. "There are so many that mean something to me, that speak to me," he said. "Gospel music is heart music," he added. "When it’s a calling on your life and God calls you to do something, you’d better do it. And it’s the music that speaks to me. I love all types of music. I love jazz. I love blues. I love country. I love all of that, but Christian music is what speaks to me. There have been many times, where I have walked through valleys, that I’ve been able to put on a Christian song that God has used to minister to me in those moments. So, being able to stand up on stage and sing songs like that in hopes to encourage somebody else out in the audience or touch a life or heart – that’s why I sing Gospel music.
"I think we all have been though difficult times in our lives. I’ve experienced some really rough times in my life, a lot of hurt. A lot of people that I laid trust in and believed in have hurt me. You hopefully learn something through that and learn how to trust God through all of those valleys and know that everything is going to be okay. They help you learn to become better Christians. I feel that’s what it’s done for me. My feeling is that God took me through that to prepare me for now.
"We’ve gone through rough spots with Beyond the Ashes, like the fires. We’ve had a couple of bus accidents, as well, that weren’t threatening to us, but did a lot of damage to the bus. It was very defeating at moments, especially because, being in ministry, you don’t expect to go through those types of things. The devil has really tried to tear down our ministry, but I believe that, in the long run, they’ve been tests, and they’ve been lessons and challenges that have made us stronger, in the ministry as well as personally."
Among his favorite verses of scripture, he said, "the ones that have spoken to me the greatest would be Matthew 6:30-34, which basically talk about how, if God pays attention to the smallest of flowers, imagine how much He loves us, that all of our everyday needs will be met if we’re His children. For me, that has spoken so greatly, especially through everything we’ve gone through."
He chose the name for the group from personal experience. "All of us have experienced ‘junk’ in our lives, and we’ve gone through a lot of things in our lives. What is ‘ash’ – something that once was. And so we’re beyond what we once were.
"The greatest thing that could ever happen to a person is Jesus Christ. He is someone that sticks closer to you than an earthly friend, someone you can always rely on, and I have absolutely no regrets accepting Him to be my Saviour."