Selah: What You See Isn't Always What You Get
- Monday, September 20, 2004
With the past two years bringing such life-changing transition, it’s any wonder the group was able to record a fourth album, "Hiding Place" (Curb), which hit stores in May and at press time held the No. 1 spot on SoundScan’s Top Christian Albums chart in its third week of release. Easily Selah’s fastest-selling album to date, it’s taken less than a month for "Hiding Place" to eclipse 50,000 copies sold, never mind that each member has also embarked on a solo project. And the group has continued to tour every other weekend.
So, how have they done it?
“It’s tough because you are trying to do what you love; but, at the same time, you have a wife and kids who are supposed to be your priority,” says Todd of his wife and 19 month-old twin daughters. “I remember Christmastime on this last tour we did. My daughter Ellie didn’t recognize me when I came home,” he shares somberly. “That was so hard. We do have to tour, not just to pay the bills but to share with people what we believe. But my wife and kids pay for that, to some degree.”
Nicol also weighs in on the demands of touring and the logistics of traveling from Chicago, where she now lives with her husband, Greg, of one year (a seminary student at Moody Bible Institute), to Nashville to record a new album. “During our first year of marriage, Greg thought it was really important for us to be together as much as possible,” she says. “He’d come out on the weekends [while Selah toured]. Seeing the same concert 100 times over isn’t necessarily fun, plus he had an incredible community of friends at Moody that he missed. But he believed we needed time together, and he stuck to it.”
On "Hiding Place," Selah remains true to its trademark of offering traditional hymns, fresh arrangements of modern choruses and several upbeat African songs, albeit with a slightly edgier tone overall. The album’s highlights include Irish chorus and radio hit “You Raise Me Up” (which, at press time, hit No. 1 on the AC charts, a first for the group in that format), a cover of Andraé Crouch’s “Through It All” and a soul-stirring rendition of “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.”
One cut in particular, “By and By,” stands out for Todd, mainly due to the family ties involved. “The song begins with a recording of my grandfather baptizing hundreds of Congolese people who came to Christ,” he says. In addition, Todd had the privilege of performing the song as a duet with his father, Jim, in Kituba.
For Nicol, it’s not the recording process that’s most rewarding but rather performing live. “It’s such a tremendous release to sing the type of songs we do,” she says. “You get to cry out to God right up there onstage. Some days you don’t feel like doing it, but there’s something freeing about singing, ‘Precious Lord, take my hand/ Lead me on, let me stand/ I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn/ Through the storm, through the night/ Lead me on to the light/ Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.’”*
With lyrics like these, it’s obvious that even in the most hectic times, this group knows when it’s appropriate to pause.
*Lyrics from “Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ by Thomas A. Dorsey. The song appears on Selah’s debut release," Be Still My Soul."
In addition to Selah’s continuing musical ministry, each member released a Curb solo project on August 10.
Unlike her counterparts in Selah, Nicol Sponberg has previously recorded a solo album, a self-titled Curb project released in 2000. Unfortunately, the effort yielded disappointing sales numbers; but Nicol is happy for a second chance. Behold her sophomore disc, aptly titled "Resurrection" and produced by Mark Heimermann (Stacie Orrico, dc talk).
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