By Caleb Hennington
Digital Content Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle for everyone. The entire world, every industry, has been touched by this highly contagious, unseen enemy.
It’s not just pastors and churches that have struggled to find ways to connect to their once bustling and vibrant communities; musicians have really taken a hit as well.
But that hasn’t stopped Brooke Hobbs and David Williams from doing what makes them happy. Through their folk-inspired worship band Fox & Foal, the two young musicians are taking what they’ve learned from growing up in Arkansas United Methodist Churches and applying the message of the Gospel to the uplifting music they create.
“It’s been very tricky, especially for new artists like us. A lot of our gigs have been canceled, which we’re grateful for and appreciate. We totally support the idea to ‘Do no harm,’” said Hobbs, vocalist for Fox & Foal. “But we know that, like, every season. God is with us even in this hard time. And so we’re just trying to be faithful.”
Faith has been a big part of the duo’s lives, going back all the way to their time spent in youth groups.
Hobbs attended Mountainside UMC in Hot Springs Village and said that she was really active in the Arkansas Conference growing up, participating in CCYM meetings and activities almost every year of high school. She also had the opportunity to travel as a delegate to the Global Young People’s Convocation for two years, at their meeting in Manila, Philippines in 2014 and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2018.
“I really want to thank the Arkansas Conference for equipping young people and really nurturing ACCYM. I think that being a part of ACCYM really set the tone for my entire faith walk.”
Williams, vocalist and guitarist for the band, said he grew up as a youth kid at Central UMC – Fayetteville and spent a lot of time playing worship music in the youth worship teams all the way through high school.
That foundation of faith led the two to become involved at their college’s Wesley Foundation at The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
In 2015, Williams was leading worship at the U of A Wesley College Ministry. Hobbs, a sophomore at the time, was a vocalist on the worship team as well. Their time spent playing music together lead to a growing friendship and partnership.
After the 2015 – 16 school year, Williams got a job leading worship at Genesis Church, a ministry of Central, and brought Hobbs on with him to help lead worship. Soon, the two began writing their own songs together.
The name Fox & Foal comes from an origin of faith as well, according to Williams.
“The fox represents human nature, and how we’re prone to wander away from Christ. While the foal represents Christ himself and His desire to meet with us. And so the fox and foal is the union of the people of God with the presence of God, which is the goal when we lead worship,” Williams explained.
Their hobby quickly turned into something much bigger when they attended a conference in the summer of 2019 in Nashville hosted by the Gospel Music Association. The GMA is most well-known for hosting the annual Dove Awards; basically, the Grammy Awards of the Christian music world.
The conference offered a chance for up-and-coming musicians to submit a music demo to their Demo Derby. Hobbs said their song “What Other Love” was pulled out of the demo submissions and was played before a panel of judges.
“We thought it was going to be a really intense moment where they were going to critique us really hard, but they played our demo in front of this panel and they really loved it. And that was really encouraging for us,” Hobbs said.
The two said after the conference, they were able to connect with a few people from the panel. One of them was John J. Thompson, a Nashville music producer who has worked with faith-based musicians and artists all over the world.
Thompson connected them with Stephen Leiweke of Yackland Recording Studio as a co-producer. Leiweke has worked with an array of big-name artists, including Jars of Clay, Lauren Daigle, Ingrid Michaelson, Chris Tomlin, and Michael W. Smith.
Through working with Thompson and Leiweke, Fox & Foal recorded and released three singles, with two more songs planned for release this summer. All of their music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube.
Although the pandemic has limited the way that Fox & Foal are able to share their music, they have been able to stay connected with people through their YouTube channel and through worship livestreaming events that they’re grateful to have been a part of.
“We put out a couple of worship sets on Facebook to our fans, and we did a virtual worship with First UMC in Fort Smith. We’ve tried to put some videos out as well to just kind of encourage people day-to-day,” Williams said. “For me personally, I wake up one day and feel great and feel encouraged. And then the next day, you know, I feel like the exact opposite, almost. So I know it’s good to have that daily encouragement or a weekly encouragement. So, we’re finding ways, like almost any artist now. But it’s definitely tough.”
To help churches with their worship services during the pandemic, Fox & Foal have offered churches the opportunity to use any of their songs, free of charge, during their services. Hobbs said they want to help smaller churches — who might not have the resources to have a live worship band or pay copyright fees for songs — have the opportunity to play worship music if they choose to do so.
For any church interested, visit www.foxandfoalmusic.com/resources for videos of their songs, as well as chord charts for musicians.
Although the future of the world might seem uncertain right now, Hobbs and Williams aren’t letting that slow down their plans, even if they can’t yet see what’s in store for Fox & Foal.
“I can’t visibly see the future. And that’s kind of a hard thing for me to do because I’m a major planner, but I’m just trying to take every part of this process in. And I know that even though we’re kind of in a hard spot right now, God is still working through us, and I just don’t want to get in the way of the Holy Spirit and the plan that God has for us,” Hobbs said.
“And so we just want to be faithful in the moment of where we are and be present to this entire process.”
To hear more from Fox & Foal and to stay connected with what they’re currently working on, visit www.foxandfoalmusic.com. You can also follow them on social media, @foxandfoalmusic.