With 20+ years together, Selah - comprised of Todd Smith, Amy Perry, and Allan Hall - continue to offer their unmatched musical talent, passion for ministry and a deep love for the Church. In their two-decade career, they have achieved more than four million units in music sales, received eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and an additional 14 nominations, a Gold-certified album, and eight No. 1 singles.
A few of the group's signature hits include "You Raise Me Up," "Wonderful, Merciful Savior," and "You Amaze Us." Smith, Hall, and Perry together have graced the stage of Carnegie Hall to 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, all the while carrying a message of hope and healing for those who pause and listen.
Recently, Selah released a brand new album Firm Foundation with Integrity Music. While Selah's collections have never been restricted by genre, the tracks on Firm Foundation are as diverse as the musical upbringings and leanings as the artists behind them. Each is well-represented on the album. "My Soul Be Satisfied" and "Always Gonna Be" give a nod to Allan's folk roots in East Tennessee. "Firm Foundation" features a back-up gospel choir with a nod to Todd's upbringing. "Yet Not I, But Through Christ in Me" sounds like a new, old hymn-something the church will be singing for a long time, which showcases Amy's background of church worship.
We are honored to be able to catch up with Allan Hall for this exclusive interview.
Q: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. After 21 years with Curb Records, why did you decide to leave?
We had fulfilled our recording contract with Curb that we had originally signed back in 1997, and after 21 years we were excited to explore what options would be available to us as free agents in the "new" music industry! Things had changed so much since we had signed back in 1997 (for example, our first two albums also came out on cassette (in addition to CDs)! And there were no smartphones, iTunes, or any digital download or streaming services, of course. We go back a LONG way, don't we?
Q: What were some of the highlights for you during your tenure with Curb Records?
We had a wonderful experience over at Curb! We are still friends with many of our team over at Curb and stay in regular contact with them. Some of the highlights of working under the Curb Records banner included complete creative freedaom (a HUGE deal that not many artists get to enjoy!); performing at the CMA (Country Music Association) Fest around the year 2000 or 2001, I believe (it was called "Fan Fair" back then); co-headlining a show at the Ryman Auditorium and performing at the Grand Ole Opry (fantastic experiences!); and so many other things too numerous to count.
Since Curb is a secular label and was just starting their Christian division when we signed in 1997, they had us perform at venues with their country artists many times. So we had a unique opportunity to do what we do in places that most Christian artists would not be able to book a performance. I'm so grateful for that!
Q: Why did you choose to sign with Integrity Music?
It really came about very quickly. After leaving Curb, we intended to go fully independent with our own record label, and we actually almost completed a new album when Integrity indiicated interest in working with us. After much discussion and prayer, it made sense to postpone our independent album for a little while to make a record with Integrity.
Q: Did you approach the making of this record any differently since you are with a new imprint?
Yes, absolutely. Integrity wanted a worship album from us since that is their specialty in the Christian music industry, and we wanted to honor their request. We had never made a full worship album during our career, and we thought it would be a new challenge for us (musically speaking), and perhaps open us up to the worship music audience that might never normally think to give us a listen. So Integrity was much more involved in song choices and shaping the album than how we had previously worked at Curb.
Q: What were some of the joys and challenges in the making of this new record?
A challenge for me personally was that I actually don't listen to much worship music. I love hymns and some newer songs that are what I would term "modern day hymns" (for example, many of the songs that Keith and Kristyn Getty write). Those type of songs are definitely in my wheelhouse, while modern worship music is not. Amy had the biggest knowledge and grasp of what constitiutes a strong worship song, so her input was considerable in making this record. Todd falls somewhere between Amy and me, I think.
Since this album had to be made so quickly (we started recording in May 2019 and we had to turn the album in in August 2019), we had to split up the recording work between 3 different producers, with each producer doing 3 or 4 songs. It was an incredibly tight schedule, but one of the joys for me was working with some new producers (in addition to our long-time producer, Jason Kyle, who has been with us for our entire recording career) and the different musicians those producers used on the project.
Q: One of the songs that you had a hand in co-writing is "Always Gonna Be." Tell us how the song came about.
Todd called me up and told me he was in a writing session with two other writers. I think they had finished up a song they had been working on more quickly than they anticipated, so Todd asked me if I had any song ideas since they had extra time on their hands. I told him it would be great to write a really up-tempo, hand-clapping, encouraging song that would put a smile on people's faces and would also be just a FUN song to listen to! And I snuck in some of my East TN mountain music influences as well, which made it even more fun for me!
Q: One of the songs I really like is "Yet Not I, But Through Christ In Me," why did you guys choose to record this song?
Integrity suggested we record that song. I had never heard it, but I think it's a powerful lyric and a strong melody. All three of us really liked that one!
We are planning to release the next full Selah album this November on our own label (it's possible it might be delayed because of the shutdown from the Coronavirus, but we hope not).