Fox & Foal, an up-and-coming, folk-inspired worship duo from Fayetteville, Arkansas, came together when Dave Williams and Brooke Hobbs first began leading worship together at the University of Arkansas Wesley College Ministry in the fall of 2015. After a few years of serving on staff in the local church they began writing original songs together that were inspired by the move of God in their own lives. A call to lead their congregation in true surrender to a new life in Christ remains a constant theme in several of their songs, including “Overflow,” “I Am Yours,” and “Give It All.”
As the new songs continued to come, and the vision for recording them and offering them to the wider church started to form, Dave and Brooke settled on the name Fox & Foal to represent their musical pursuits. “Human nature’s inclination toward sin is represented by the cunning fox,” Williams explains, “While the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is represented by the foal.” The two images poetically captured the emerging vision the duo was cultivating; to connect the people of God with the presence of God in a transformative, and artistic way.
Often leading worship as a duo in their early days, and deeply inspired by the modern Americana artists that made such a resurgence in recent years, Fox & Foal are drawn to the simplicity of two voices and a guitar, but are unafraid to take things farther when given the opportunity. They make a strong first statement on their debut EP, What Other Love. Produced in Nashville by John J. Thompson and Stephen Leiweke, and brought to life by a band of musicians that includes Aaron Smith on drums (Rich Mullins, The 77s, The Temptations,) Chris Donohue on bass, (Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Allison Krauss, Robert Plant,) Matt Slocum (Sixpence None The Richer) on cello, and Matt Stanfield on piano and keys (Corey Asbury, Kasey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Norah Jones, Kelly Clarkson,) this five-song introduction features melodies that stick, rhythms that move, and lyrics that matter. “We can’t wait for the world to hear each one of these songs,” Brooke adds. “And this is just the beginning!”
Fox & Foal
Dave – 29, Brooke – 24
worship, folk, americana
Hobbies/Interests Apart from Music:
Dave: basketball, golf, grilling, MCU movies
Brooke: cooking, playing card games, telling my dog she’s a good girl
Last Netflix Binge:
Dave: Even Stevens (on Disney+), Arrested Development (again) on Netflix
Brooke: Love is Blind, Ugly Delicious, Explained (I love docuseries and I especially love cringe.)
Dave: Tom Petty, The Eagles, John Mayer, Phil Wickham, John Mark McMillan
Brooke: Penny & Sparrow, The Lumineers, Simon & Garfunkel, All Sons & Daughters, Cody Carnes
Very First Musical Purchase:
Dave: Album: No Strings Attached by *NSYNC. Equipment: capo, amp, wah-wah pedal
Brooke: A very cheap acoustic guitar. The first record I bought with my own money was A Little Bit Longer by Jonas Brothers circa 2008. The first record I begged my parents to get me was “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears *facepalm*
CCM: If you had only five words to describe your new album, it would be…?
Dave: Surrender, authentic, heartfelt, harmonies, prayer
CCM: Do you have a favorite song from the new album? Why?
Dave: “What Other Love.” It was written very easily, like a gift from God, and Brooke sings the snot out of it. It’s the song that caught the attention of John J. Thompson and started this whole adventure for us.
Brooke: Also ““What Other Love.”This song is what sparked our journey as up-and-coming artists, and will always hold a special place in our hearts. This is why we chose it as our first single. I remember everything about the moment when Dave first sent a video of him plucking it out on a piano. I immediately knew it was different and anointed. Both of our moms disagree with us, though. They love I Am Yours—which will be on our EP coming out later this spring.
Check out “What Other Love” here:
CCM: What led you to pursue a career or ministry in music?
Dave: I’ve wanted to be a musician since Jr High, but never considered a career in worship until I kind of fell backwards into my first worship position. It was clear from then on that God had uniquely gifted and called me to lead others in worship. Working with Brooke was an added bonus; the missing ingredient for so many years.
Brooke: When I was super young, my family would lead special music at our local church. I started learning the guitar in 2009. Kris Allen (from central Arkansas) had just won American Idol. My 13 year old self saw that as validation that it was possible for me to pursue the arts being from rural Arkansas. I’ve felt a strong call to ministry from the time I was active in my tiny youth group. I never thought I was going to be doing worship ministry, I saw youth ministry as my only option. God’s plan doesn’t always align with mine and that’s been a very tough pill to swallow. But I feel blessed that God has continued to open my eyes to opportunities to lead worship. I truly feel worship and music ministry is my calling.
CCM: Do you remember that moment when you realized you wanted to make an actual career out of music?
Dave: The first time I played drums, ironically in worship in 7th grade, I knew I wanted to play music professionally. The first time Brooke sang our song “What Other Love,” I knew it was possible.
Brooke: Dave and I got the opportunity to go to a GMA sponsored event for artists & songwriters. Our song “What Other Love.” got randomly picked to enter into a “demo derby”. Artists from across the US and maybe a few international artists showed their demo to a panel of music industry folks and got raw feedback. I was soooooo nervous, but eager to hear constructive feedback. Our demo was played and the panel loved it! That’s how we got connected to one of our producers, John Thompson. I think that was the moment where I felt pursuing music was in the realm of possibility for me. I’m learning that these “random” moments aren’t just coincidences – it’s God at work.
CCM: What are your hopes for the new project?
Dave: My hope is that these songs can become prayers for the broken and proclamations of faith for the weary. I hope they connect with the church and resonate with everyone who hears them— wherever they are in their walk with Christ. And hopefully this allows us to continue this kind of work and bring more songs of faith to the church.
Brooke: This may sound stereotypical or cheesy as a Christian artist, but I genuinely hope that these songs resonate with people and bring them closer to Jesus. I started writing Give It All (our second single, releasing on March 20th) based on a prayer that I had prayed for myself. Being vulnerable isn’t my strong suit, so I was pretty apprehensive to share the song – even with Dave, one of my closest friends. Our good friend and former pastor spoke into this idea that really stuck with me: As humans, we are created to worship, but we need to choose where/who we direct that worship towards. I felt myself slipping into a trap where I was idolizing so many things and my full trust wasn’t in God. So, I prayed and Give It All came out of that prayer. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, and I hope that these songs speak life into people and lead them to a place of surrender.
CCM: If you could potentially tour with any other artist or band (that you haven’t already), who would you choose and why?
Dave: Phil Wickham: great leader, killer voice. We The Kingdom: new, interesting, and making waves. Zach Williams: fellow Arkansan, great sound. Rend Collective: folksy and an absolute party.
Brooke: We’ve not toured yet, but touring is a dream (once it becomes safer from COVID-19). I would love to tour alongside We The Kingdom. They’re pretty new themselves, but Ed Cash and his family are doing stellar things right now.
CCM: What was the last song you listened to on your playlist or stereo?
Dave: “Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves
Brooke: “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes. His new record dropped recently and it’s killer. I love his writing.
CCM: What was the last book you read?
Dave: Hamilton: The Revolution
Brooke: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling. Kind of an ironic book title as we practice social distancing.
CCM: If you could tell the world about another artist/band to check out, who would it be?
Dave: American Aquarium, Alt Country band from Raleigh, NC. Incredibly honest lyrics and unmatched passion.
Brooke: Penny & Sparrow. If you have the opportunity to see them live, DO IT. The world is a better place with those guys in it.
CCM: What has been interesting to you musically lately? Perhaps something new to you in terms of listening habits or influences?
Dave: harmonies, storytelling, singer-songwriters
CCM: Name a song that you wish you’d written (and why).
Dave: “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters. It’s so simple, yet so profoundly true and needed. I think churches will be singing that song for the next 20 years. Or “I Will Look Up” by Elevation Worship. First time I heard it I thought, “this is the kind of worship song I should be writing, musically and lyrically.”
Brooke: “The Blessing” by Elevation. The moment I heard this song, I told my coworker “Why didn’t I write this!?” The prayer in the verse (based from Numbers 6:24-26) is something I prayed every week growing up with my youth group. Plus, the song is POWERFUL. It’s already reached millions, and I’m sure it will reach many many more.
CCM: How did you arrive at the name of your new album?
Dave: It is the stand-out song and our favorite. It started this whole journey. We sing, we worship because of His great love for us, and there is no other love that compares to His.
CCM: What can listeners expect in terms of the sound, style and lyrics?
Dave: A change of pace from the “wall of sound” songs from Bethel, Elevation, Passion, etc. It’s simple and pure; leaning on folk and americana influences. Lyrics are our personal prayers and proclamations coming from our desire to see people experience true surrender in Christ.
CCM: What was the songwriting process like on this record?
Dave: Every song took shape in a different way because we were not writing specifically for a project, but just to see if we could write worship songs that connected with people and connected them with God. Some were pure inspiration and others took some work.
Brooke: I think we’ll look back and really cherish how authentically this EP came together. We’re still navigating what co-writing looks like for us, but I think we play into each other’s strengths really well.
CCM: Are there any underlying themes or threads that tie this project together?
Dave: The biggest one that jumps out is surrender. While writing these songs, we were in a season of reading about, studying, and praying for awakening within our church.
CCM: How important is your faith or spirituality within your music?
Dave: It’s everything in our context. We specifically write songs for corporate worship, so we are putting words in our congregations mouths. If we are not constantly feeding our relationship with Christ, we will run dry and our words can become manufactured, not authentic.
Brooke: Our personal faith stories are so important to our music. I was trying to write a song for a season that I thought someone in my congregation was going through, but I realized it was actually a season that I was going through. You are not alone in whatever season you are in. There are 7 billion+ people in the world. More than likely your story is relatable to others. We hope that opening up and being vulnerable with our own faith journeys encourages others to do the same and empowers them to live authentically for Jesus.
CCM: What message do you hope listeners will take away from your music, regardless of what they believe?
Dave: Hope. It feels like the world is on fire right now. Every day you wake up to more horrible news, it seems. But there is so much hope and peace and comfort in Christ. He walks beside us through the storm, through the valley. He is our strength and our hope.
Brooke: YOU are incredibly loved by a grace-filled God.