For over 20 years, Selah has displayed a talent and passion for ministry and a deep love for the Church. These have been constants for the group—comprised of Todd Smith, Amy Perry and Alan Hall. In their two-decade career, this Christian music trio has achieved more than four million units in music sales and received eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, a Gold-certified album, and eight No. 1 singles.
Selah is known for their signature vocal harmonies including hits such as, “You Raise Me Up,” “Wonderful, Merciful Savior,” and “You Amaze Us.” Smith, Hall and Perry together have graced stages like Carnegie Hall, Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and the Grand Ole Opry, while touring with such artists as Casting Crowns, Point of Grace, Steven Curtis Chapman, Natalie Grant, Michael W. Smith and more.
Selah recently released a new album, Firm Foundation, which is it’s first album with Integrity Music. CCM caught up with the members of Selah for a 3 part Q&A series. Here is what Todd Smith had to say.
Detroit, MI/Congo, Africa
Hobbies/Interests Apart from Music:
Soccer, Flying, Cycling, My 4 daughter’s sports teams, Michigan Football
Last Netflix Binge:
Fred Hammond, Commissioned, Boston, Toto, Kansas, Russ Taff, Allies, Michael English, Andrae Crouch and Aretha Franklin.
Very First Musical Purchase:
The Keepers, The Crown, World War 2 in Color
CCM: If you had only five words to describe your new album, it would be…?
Todd: Different, energetic, worshipful, fun, reflective
CCM: Do you have a favorite song from the new album? Why?
Todd: “Always Gonna Be.” It’s just fun. It’s hopeful. It’s a reminder that no matter how tough things get there is always hope. There will always be mountains and valleys. Just take the next step. There is a joy to journey on.
CCM: What led you to pursue a career or ministry in music?
Todd: My whole family sings. We used to sing at all the churches that supported my parents ministry in Africa when we returned to the states. My sister Nicol wanted to be a singer. When I was 16 I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
CCM: Do you remember that moment when you realized you wanted to make an actual career out of music?
Todd: I was a junior in high school. I wanted to be a missionary like my dad and my grandfather. When I wanted to be a singer I thought God would be really disappointed with me. I thought my parents would too. Then I asked them, and they said “we would love for you to be a missionary, but you need to do what your feel God is calling you to.” I wasn’t sure if He was, but I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
CCM: What was the last song you listened to on your playlist or stereo?
Todd: “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey
CCM: What was the last book you read?
Todd: Marketing Rebellion by Mark Schaefer
CCM: If you could tell the world about another artist/band to check out, who would it be?
Todd: Mission House
CCM: Name a song that you wish you’d written (and why).
Todd: “I Can Only Imagine” 🙂 “My Soul Be Satisfied” because it’s a gorgeous melody and the words are such a great reminder of resting in Christ when you are in turmoil or just unsatisfied with life.
CCM: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Todd: Journey, Boston, Russ Taff, Imperials, Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Allies/Bob Carlisle, Michael English, Petra, Sweet Comfort Band and U2.
CCM: What was the songwriting process like on this record?
Todd: I had 4 co-writes. “Let the Saints Sing”—very fast. All 3 of us wrote together for the first time on this song. “Always Gonna Be”—started with an idea Allan send by text and Michael Farren, Tony Wood, and I wrote the rest in about 15 minutes. “I Belong To Jesus”—Michael Farren and I wrote this in about 15 minutes when Travis Ryan came to us with the idea. One of my favorite songs on the album. “Benediction”—Jennie Lee Riddle and Charity Gayle’s iCal’s deleted our writing appointment. When I showed up that day at Jennie’s house they were completely surprised. Thank goodness they were there! We wrote a beautiful song.
CCM: Are there any underlying themes or threads that tie this project together?
Todd: Firm Foundation is the underlying theme. “Jesus Is King,” “I Belong To Jesus,” “My Soul Be Satisfied,” “Sound of Love,” and all the other songs fall under this theme. “Benediction” is a prayer of blessing, love for one another, and God’s peace at a time when there is so much anger and social media/political animosity between Christians and fellow human beings.
CCM: How important is your faith or spirituality within your music?
Todd: It’s very important. As an artist I can be narcissistic, love self promotion,
CCM: What message do you hope listeners will take away from your music, regardless of what they believe?
Todd: In the midst of so much confusion and noise on social media about what Truth is, look to Jesus and the Bible for your foundation. Jesus claimed He was the TRUTH. If He is not than He is a liar and there is no reason to follow Him. If He is the Truth, then anything that contradicts His teachings is false. The best way to know His teaching is to prayerfully read and study the Word of God on your own. Music and messages from artists and preachers/teachers are very helpful, but they can’t substitute for the Holy Spirit working in you and revealing God’s Truth when you study it for yourself.