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Singing on the job leads to performing live

VIRAL STARS: At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10,Josh Arnett and Aaron Gray,who call themselves The Singing Contractors, will appear along with a live band on the Ford Theater stage.

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

When Aaron Gray, of Yorktown, and Josh Arnett, of Atlanta, Indiana, have visited Wabash for work in the past, it was for very different reasons.

The pair, who have known each other since before they were teenagers, are contractors by trade. Arnett said he had completed a tile shower job “right on the main drag” in Wabash. Gray said he had worked for two or three weeks directly across the street from the Honeywell Center.

“It was just like, ‘Wow, can you imagine getting to perform there? ‘And never would have dreamed it. So, this is really cool,” said Gray.

And, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, the pair, who call themselves The Singing Contractors, will appear along with a live band on the Ford Theater stage. Tickets are $15, $24 and $50.

Though their rise to fame was sudden, their journey from obscurity to viral video stars begins several years ago.

Since before they performed for millions online, they have been “just two normal guys that work every day and sing on the side,” according to Gray, who has now been married for 25 years, and has four children.

Arnett, who has been married 23 years, and has three children, said they found themselves working as subcontractors on the same job.

“That day we just started singing in the house and one thing led to another. Aaron got the bright idea to record us on his cellphone and put them on social media,” said Arnett.

Arnett said he was wary of the medium, at first.

“I really didn’t want to because you know how they can crucify you,” he said.

Arnett said they just “did it for fun.” Soon, they were taking requests from viewers.

“We never thought twice about it and we probably did that for two and a half, three years,” he said.

Things progressed that way for around three years, when one request changed everything.

In 2015, their rendition of “How Great Thou Art” was recorded on the job during a home remodel. The video led to an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” The song, which was recorded along with fellow subcontractor Paul Bigger, now has over 600,000 views on YouTube.

Shortly after, their version of “Mary Did You Know” was released. It now has over a million views.

“It blew our minds,” said Arnett. “Ever since from that point, I guess our lives have kind of been in a whirlwind. We still work and God’s been good to us, I’ll say that.”

The pair has now released their debut album, “Working on a Building, Hymns and Gospel Classics.”

Gray said they are now working on a new Christmas album.

“It’s just been a crazy, crazy journey, but we’re excited to be able to share our story,” he said.

Wednesday’s phone interview with the Plain Dealer had to be scheduled after 5 p.m. because both of them were at their day jobs before that time. Arnett said they would be open to making music more and working less if that was a possibility in the future.

“We’re just kind of following the doors that God opens for us and so that’s just how we’ve been doing it. And I think we’ll continue to do that until something major happens maybe. Who knows?” he said.

Arnett said performing with a live band fit their “country gospel flavor,” which they also alternated with a cappella versions.

Arnett said they had a portion of the show where they would take audience requests, just like they did online.

“We sing a lot of your old hymns and just any song that somebody throws out there we’ll sing it. And, we’ll try anything. We like to give people a variety of stuff,” he said.

The pair agreed that through their unexpected success, their families had remained loyal supporters.

Some friends and acquaintances, though? That’s a different matter.

“We really don’t know. It seems like some have pulled away and some have come closer. I don’t think they know how to take it,” Gray said.

Arnett added his opinion on the matter in song through an a cappella version of the chorus of a 2006 country hit song written by Casey Beathard and Ed Hill.

“We like to sing that song, Aaron, ‘You find out who your friends are,’” he intoned.