Reviewed by Andrew Rolfe
Selah are a bit of a US CCM institution, an award-winning group focusing on the delivery of hymns and Christian classics, with a smattering of African numbers picked up during their time as mission kids in the Congo. 'The Selah Collection' is a lavishly packaged compilation of old recordings put together with a few previously unreleased tracks. Selah's first concert was about 10 years ago. It was a rather spontaneously organised affair, with Todd persuading his already-professional-singer sister Nicol to share the lead-singing load with him, with Allan providing piano and lighter vocals. That night, Selah was born, although at the time they didn't have a name, and they didn't even know they were a group. Encouragement, especially from mom, led to them cutting an independent album for friends and family. With a sigh of satisfaction, they thought that would be the end of the matter and all returned back to what they had been doing before. But they didn't realise, their name was Selah; Forever. Not long after, the boss of the record company where Nicol had a solo contract was finally persuaded to listen to the CD and it stopped him in his tracks: Selah - he stopped and listened. The next day he told Nicol he wanted the group-with-no-name on his books. So, they quite naturally became Selah because it was what they already were. Eight years and four albums later, in 2004, Selah happened again; Nicol left to be a full-time mother (a brief look at their stuffed on-line diary shows why she might have decided this), giving her a change in rhythm, and the group too, first with Melodie as lead female vocal then, after another change in melody, Amy became the trio's new female singer. Amy is still with the two boys and will be appearing on the next Selah album. There are plenty of feel-good moments to this series of four CDs. Looking at the laughing photos and reading the biographical material one gets to know a little of the people behind the voices. Their love for Jesus is evident. Their Christian heritage obvious. This all impacts the music and adds a reality to the words: they aren't just singing well-worn songs, they are expressing their heartfelt opinions, and it makes the albums worth listening to. As for quality of sound, a friend of mine, who just so happens to be a professional musician, upon hearing a few tracks for the first time, was immediately impressed with the vocal talent. Believe me, that is a complement coming from a seasoned and critical musician. The first three CDs have already been released under different cover sleeves (the fourth is a "Bonus CD"). Cross Rhythms has them succinctly reviewed so I don't want to re-invent the wheel and blah on about the quality of the backing vocals or the CCM-famous percussionist, or Allan's obvious keyboard dexterity. One comment I will make is that this group can take a hymn you've heard in 11 different settings and provide you with a 12th, without their interpretation being superfluous: rather like every disciple having their place. Todd mentions it being a privilege to join their listeners, over the airwaves at least, in many situations and having a positive impact. He provides one example of a person who wanted to end their lives being persuaded not to by a Selah song, played at just the right time on just the right radio station.
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