Renowned for their impassioned interpretations of timeless hymns and classic songs of faith, 11-time GMA Dove Award-winning vocal trio Selah is celebrating 25 years in Christian music with the release of two highly anticipated full-length recordings this fall.
Adding to an unparalleled discography showcasing Selah's signature take on some of the most popular Inspirational songs of all time, Greatest Hymns Vol. 3 bows October 14 alongside At This Table: A Christmas Album. Both projects-releasing via the group's label, 3Cre8tive-will be available exclusively at national retail with various singles slated for digital release.
We are honored to be able to catch up with Selah's Allan Hall for this exclusive interview.
Q: Allan, thanks for doing this interview with us. 25 years have passed since Selah has had been in Christian music. When you guys first started, did you anticipate you would have such longevity?
I always hoped and prayed that we'd be able to have a good, long career in music. The music industry is a very competitive and difficult field to succeed in, and many artists for various reasons don't get to have the longevity that we've had so far. I am very thankful that 25 years later God is still allowing us to serve Him in this way! I'm also incredibly thankful that folks are still interested in what we are doing and still support us by buying or streaming our music and buying concert tickets. We could not do it without them!!
Q: What factors do you think contributed to your longevity?
We have always tried to do our very best to record meaningful songs that speak to us. If we love a song, hopefully the listener will pick up on the passion we put into a performance and it will speak to the listener's heart and spirit as well. Also, we have always tried to be very open and honest in our communication with our fans (we actually call them our "Selah family" -- the word "fan" doesn't do justice to how we feel about them!), and I believe that folks appreciate openness and sincerity (especially nowadays!).
Q: What are a couple of highlights for you over the span of the last 25 years?
There have been so many highlights it's hard to narrow them down, but I'll list a few: recording with Dolly Parton in 2002 for our "Rose of Bethlehem" album; spending an hour with Rev. Billy Graham in his home singing to him and praying and chatting with him; headlining a concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and also performing at the Grand Ole Opry; performing at Carnegie Hall; shooting a video in Istanbul; being able to visit 49 states and see our beautiful country (Hawaii is the only state we haven't performed in!).
Q: Hymns must be really important because your new album and your first album have featured hymns. Why are they important? How would approach these songs to bring a freshness to them?
Hymns have been Selah's foundation since we started. I learned to play the piano from a hymnal when I was 7 years old, so hymns have been with me for nearly my whole life. I believe hymns have stood the test of time because so many of them are REAL -- many of them were written from places of heartbreak, pain, and brokenness. They speak of universal issues that all of us can relate to.
When we are about to record a hymn, we treat it as if it were a song that was pitched to us today. We always want to be respectful of a hymn and its history, but we want to do our best to approach it with fresh, modern song sensibilities and not be locked into a "crusty," traditional mode with them. We do our best to research the background of the hymn (to find out what the writer was wanting to say through the composition, what was going on in his or her life at the time of writing, etc.). I think this approach (a combination of appreciation for hymns' history while approaching them with a modern, but respectful, musical sensibility) has helped us keep hymns fresh for today's audience.
Q: Besides your new hymns-album, you also have a new Christmas record coming out on the same day. Why a Christmas. album?
We wanted to give the fans a lot of music this year as a gift to them and to thank them for supporting us all this time. Our first Christmas album, "Rose of Bethlehem," is 20 years old this year, so it's another "anniversary" of sorts. Also, this is Amy's first full Christmas album with us (even though she's the longest-running female member of Selah), and the Selah fans have been asking for a Christmas album with Amy for a long time.
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of this Christmas set?
I had the greatest fun working on the arrangements with Todd and our longtime co-producer, Jason Kyle Saetveit. We were trying to find ways to bring a freshness to the traditional Christmas songs that we all know and have been recorded so many times. I hope that we succeeded in that! And we had a wonderful orchestrator named Larry Hall who added tremendously to the project, I feel!
Q: You guys have accomplished a lot over the last 25 years. Are there areas in music you have not done and would like to explore in the future?
Yes, we have a whole list of album or EP concepts that we'd like to record including an Easter-themed album; patriotic; Broadway and movie songs; Duets, Vol. 2 with Traditional Gospel artists; Duets Vol. 3 with Southern Gospel artists; an Americana / Roots project; and of course, our "regular" albums as well! Todd is also working on solo pop recordings, and I'm working on recording solo Americana and country albums.