Melissa Bell-Bethea has been featured on albums of Hezekiah Walker, Lance Williams & True Worship and even sang as lead vocalist on two JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise albums. But this year, she’s adding something new to her roster.
Last Friday, Melissa recorded her upcoming album live, marking her debut solo album yet to be titled.
Below we find out what prompted the shift in her career and how she went from not enjoying singing in front of crowds to singing background to JJ Hairston…
GG: What made you finally decide to do a solo album?
Melissa Bell-Bethea: I felt like it was something I needed to do and something I was destined to do, but it was all about just waiting for the right time and opportunity.
What’s the album title?
I don’t have an album title yet; that’ll probably come once all the songs are together. While we’re in work mode, we’ll probably decide what to call the record then.
So what’s the feel of it?
You can expect some praise and worship, some hand-clapping, foot-stomping. We have a nice groove going. It’s going to be something for everybody.
Let’s talk about your background. Did you grow up in church?
I did. With my family. And everybody could sing. My mom could sing, my aunt can sing; we were a musical family. When my mom discovered I could sing, she decided [to make me sing at the Easter program]. From then on, that was it.
A lot of kids don’t like going to church or participating in activities their parents make them do. Maybe not the singing part, but… how about you?
Actually I kind of did. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I didn’t start enjoying singing until maybe a few years back when I discovered that this is what I should be doing, that this is my passion – not just something I’m good at. It was really my purpose. I didn’t like the attention. Because my mom sings. It was positive attention, but that’s why I didn’t want to sing.
Were you compared to you mom? Was there pressure there?
No, it wasn’t even like that. I definitely got my singing skills from her, but people didn’t compare me to my mom. I just didn’t like the attention. To be truthfully honest, I can sing background all day and be happy. Being out front, that’s the part I didn’t want to do.
How’d the turnaround happen?
One Sunday my pastor said, ‘You’re going to lead praise and worship.’ I had never done that. I was used to devotion so I’m just looking at him like, ‘You want me to do what?’ But when I started doing that, that’s when I knew.
What are your thoughts on the division between believers who go to church and those who don’t?
My thing is this: You can believe in God all you want, but that doesn’t foster relationship. And for people who say, ‘I’m not in to religion,’ great. I’m with you. Leave it. Religion is your structured rules and regulations, but there’s no relationship attached to it. And once we realize that God is about relationship, it won’t be hard for you to go to church because you’re in love with God and he clearly says don’t forsake the assembling of yourself with your brethren, which means, don’t forget to fellowship with your brothers and sisters. Once you focus on your relationship first, everything else is just going to fall in line. Because there’s no way you can love God and not want to be around the people of God at the right time and at the right place. That’s how you grow. You can be at home watching TBN all day, but you’re not going to really get what you need until you come out and find yourself fellowshipping.
Follow Melissa Bell-Bethea on Instagram @melsings00 for more updates on her upcoming album!