BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Selah: Blessing the Broken Road
By Jennifer E. Jones
CBN.com Nassau, Bahamas With line-up changes, a chart-topping single, and a trip to the Pentagon, Selah had an eventful 2006. Jennifer E. Jones sat down with the trio on the Girls Get-A-Way Cruise to talk about the journey beyond the "broken road".
A Christian cruise full of over 1,600 women is not exactly the place where you'd expect to find Selah. However, the group is fortunate enough to spend five days and four nights sailing the Caribbean seas singing for the ladies of Premier Christian Cruise's "Girls Get-A-Way".
As I sit and watch them sing "You Are My Hiding Place" during their sound check, I can't get over the amazing chemistry Amy Perry, Allan Hall and Todd Smith have together. Their voices blend seamlessly as though they'd been together for years. Yet, this present formation is less than a year old.
"It was God," Amy tells CBNmusic. "It’s very rare to find voices that blend the first time around. God’s really orchestrated who I am and who I’ve become as a singer."
"We auditioned 15 female vocalists," Todd recalls in an earlier press release, "and Amy really stood out. She can do it all—she's amazing at picking up harmonies, but most importantly, she's very much in tune with her spiritual walk. What you see is what you get with Amy, so we knew our audience would love her openness and honesty. She's just a perfect fit."
This perfect fit came at the perfect time as Selah released Bless The Broken Road — The Duets Album in early 2006. The title track shot to the top of the charts with a little help from a country group called Rascal Flatts.
"Before Amy, Nicol [Sponberg] was the original founding member," Allan explains. "She left in 2004, and for most of 2005, Melodie [Crittenden] came into the group. She was actually a country artist in the late ‘90s. She’d recorded that song well before Rascal Flatts."
Indeed Melodie Crittenden recorded "Bless the Broken Road" on her self-titled 1998 album. It was a top 40 hit on the country charts back then -- a fact that some fans may not have known.
Allan continues, "When she joined us, we wanted her to have a song and a part in the concert where people could get to know her. We asked her what would she want to do, and she said, ‘I’d like to do ‘Broken Road’. I know Rascal Flatts has made it popular again, but I’ve always thought of it as my song.’ It really fit her life story. She married later in life than she thought. The song really fit her, and she would share that in concerts. We didn’t even think about recording it, because it was so popular by Rascal Flatts. But the demand was so strong."
Thus "Bless the Broken Road" became part of the band's repertoire and one of their most requested songs. Amy now sings for Melodie in the beautiful ballad and fills in for many of the parts while the band is on the road singing songs off their duets album (which features Nichole Nordeman, Kim Hill and more).
"I sing for everybody," Amy says with a laugh. Allan adds, "Amy’s our pinch hitter."
The stars do align every once in a while to perform duets with their original collaborators.
Todd says, "Occasionally we do a concert in Nashville. So Kim and Jill [Phillips] and Melodie are able to join us. If we just so happen to be in the same city and it works out, then we’d definitely have as many of them as we could. We almost sang once with Nichole Nordeman in Dallas, because that’s where she lives. But it didn’t work out."
Selah has plenty of songs to sing that are all their own. In addition to singing stirring versions of "You Are My Hiding Place" and "You Raise Me Up", audiences also enjoy "Essango", an African song.
"I grew up in Africa and spent about eight years near the Congo," Todd says. "My dad was born out there, so there’s a lot of history. We always used to sing African songs. They’re really drawn to them – especially the kids."
Todd, Allan and Amy will get to sing these native songs in Africa on tour in 2008.
"We’ll be raising money to [plant] wells and water filtration systems," Amy explains, "and we’re also raising money to print Bibles in their native language. So hopefully we can hand them out while we’re there. We’d really like to be the ones to give them to them."
In addition to planning random acts of kindness around the world, Selah got the amazing opportunity to minister right here at home -- singing in a special September 11th memorial service at the Pentagon.
Allan recalls, "Our manager called us and said, ‘Hey, we got a call from the Pentagon. They want you to sing.’ What touched me the most was -- we have this picture of the government painted by the media. You can really start to feel secular. But to see people in there worshipping…"
"Officers, staff, people who work in the Pentagon who may not be military but are really high up," Todd says.
Allan continues, "Family members too of people who were lost."
They all remember one woman in particular who survived the attack in New York and narrowly escaped from the twin towers.
"She sat and wept," Amy says. "She actually had to get up and leave. I could see her through the doors, and she had a friend who was holding her. To see that kind of pain up close… We saw it on TV, the day passes every year, and we think about it. But for some people that were there, it’s real. It’s awesome --- like awe-struck."
Whether it's in Washington, D.C., the Congo, or on a cruise ship headed for the islands, the members of Selah share their faith through song to heal those walking the "broken road". They want people take away just two things from any Selah experience:
"Comfort. Encouragement," Allan says. "Those are our two guide words from our very first CD recorded back in ’97. We do a lot of hymns. They’ve stood the test of time. They were written out of pain. I think that’s a real common human link, and everyone knows hard times and suffering. We always hope that our songs will lift a little bit of that burden."
Bless The Broken Road — The Duets Album (2006)
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