NRT's Jake Frederick chats with Elle Limebear, daughter of Delirious?' Martin Smith, about leading worship internationally, coming into her role as a recording artist, and her heart for the next generation.
As the daughter of Delirious? frontman Martin Smith, Elle (pronounced ELL-ee) Limebear is no stranger in the Christian Music industry. It’s not her father’s presence in the industry that is pushing her into the limelight, however. Elle’s powerful vocals and soul-felt lyrics shine bright through all of her debut singles. It’s no surprise that Sony’s Provident Label Group just announced her addition to an impressive roster of artists.
My family and I caught up with Elle as she came through Dallas on Francesca Battistelli's Own It Tour. Elle and her husband, Tom, walked us backstage and gave us the behind-the-scenes tour. We walked through the historic Majestic Theatre, the girls out in front immersed in their own conversation with Tom and I following behind. We talked a little US history–President Lincoln using the theatre as a visual and President Kennedy since the Grassy Knoll was a few blocks down the road. Elle and Tom asked my daughter what concerts and interviews she’s been able to attend, which made a great segue into our interview.
We were talking about your dad being the frontman for Delirious? back in the ’90s. Did you get to travel with him? How did that impact you?
I’m one of six kids, the eldest, and we all used to tour around every year for a month in the States with Delirious?. It was so much fun. I’ve seen hundreds of Delirious? gigs, and was able to go side stage and just watch and take it all in. I think what probably impacted me is just seeing the presence of God come every night and see how people were being filled with the Spirit all over the world. I think that’s what definitely impacted me.
How did that lead you to where you are now, both leading worship and being a recording artist?
I’ve always been surrounded by music as a young kid and I’ve always loved that. I love leading worship. That is my heart: leading worship at church, at youth, and Fridays at our home church. I think I’ve always just loved being able to lead people and see the presence of God come. I’ve never wanted to properly do music. That was never a dream of mine–to be an artist or write my own music. Probably a year and a half ago, God really opened that door and made himself known that this is what I’m meant to be doing. It’s new to me, but it’s also very familiar all at the same time, growing up in music. It’s scary but very exciting. I’ve worked with some amazing people. Lots of people in the industry are like uncles to me because I’ve grown up surrounded by them. It’s really bizarre writing songs with people who I’ve grown up knowing, but I’m loving it.
You recently wrote a song with One Sonic Society.
Yeah, with Paul Mayberry and Jason Ingram. It was so fun doing that song, “Love Song.” We did that in August. It was so fun writing with them.
You also did a song with Guvna B, getting a little bit of hip-hop in there as well.
Yeah! He’s amazing. He’s such a good friend to us. Just dipping my toes in things.
Speaking of industry uncles, I saw that you were on the road with Stu G on the Roadshow tour, is that correct?
Yeah! He was playing with Michael W. Smith doing guitar, and I was singing with Matt Maher and his team. We were all on the same tour, which was so fun.
How was Roadshow? How was that experience?
It was amazing, actually! We loved being part of it. It was quite a new experience in the fact that it was lots of CCM music. And just… I don’t know, we just loved it. It was such a large amount of people and the team was amazing. We loved being part of that, we really did, got to know loads of people. It was fun, super fun.
You went straight from there to the Own It tour. Was there any break whatsoever?
We had one day! (laughing). So, we basically did our laundry, had a rehearsal day, then we got on the bus again.
After you get through with this tour and you go back to the UK, what are you taking back with you?
I’ve definitely learned a lot from this tour, and already just seeing how Francesca does it, she’s just so amazing leading people. I think this tour has definitely been a confidence thing for me because I’ve never done my own show. I’ve never done anything on my own. It’s normally either with my dad or a group from church. It’s been challenging and stretching all at the same time for me, just building confidence every night. I think what I’m taking back home is just probably a bit more confidence to step out and lead my songs, which is very new to me. Leading my songs, not leading Hillsong songs or Bethel songs in a church congregation. I’m taking that home for sure.
Can you speak a little bit to the differences in worship between the US, UK, Europe, now being an international worship leader?
I love worship music, that is my heart, and seeing the church come alive, people come alive in worship. I think in the UK, there are lots of groups of churches writing their own music, probably more than single artists. It’s normally groups of people or collectives writing their own music for their church, which I think is amazing. I love what the US is bringing out: Elevation, Bethel, there’s so many. Red Rocks. There are probably more artists here in the US, more solo things, which I think it’s incredible stepping out into that artistry. I think it’s amazing when the church sings together, singing about the most amazing God ever. It’s super powerful.
This is probably the most awkward question, but I’m okay with it. What do we need to know about Elle?
Goodness me, what do you need to know about me? I’m awful at packing a suitcase, so tour life is complicated for me. I’m a church girl through and through, I love the local church, being at church. So being away on Sundays is difficult, not being at your own church. I love games, that’s something that people need to know. All the games, I just love it.
Are you competitive?
I’m not actually that competitive. My husband Tom is very competitive. (Tom: Very much so) (all laughing) I just love games, if that’s something to know about me.
Tom asked this, and I’ll echo it: What is your vision?
I think something that’s on my and my husband’s heart is the next generation. We’re super passionate, our vision is to see this next generation fully alive and in love with Jesus. Seeing the young people living out their calling, living out their lives and what they’re supposed to be doing. Somehow, I’d love my music to be involved with that, leading people and lifting their eyes to God and for people to fall in love with Jesus and experience the Holy Spirit. That is totally our hearts.
This next generation is complicated and people don’t know who they are, they’re so lost, but that’s not the story that God has for them. I think I’d love to see this next generation be alive and passionate, shouting for the good things, you know? I’m writing for this next generation, really. I’m writing songs that will encourage, uplift, steer on, also teach. I’d love my songs to almost teach stories from the Bible and bring melody to that and lyrics. I’m excited. I don’t know totally what’s going to happen, but I’m confident that God’s with us and on this path with us.
In the story behind “Maker of the Moon,” I read where you were talking about God is there still in the darkness, he’s the maker of the moon as well as the sun. Is that an example of songs written to teach this next generation?
Oh, 100%. From my own experience, being afraid of the dark, being afraid of the night still as a 21-year-old, that is still terrifying to me some evenings. I think in those moments I’ve called out to God countless times and he has always been present, always been there. I just want to shout from the rooftops that it can happen for other people. It may not be actually in the dark, but for those dark times for people experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma... that actually God can show up and he will show up in those moments if you call on his name and cry out to him. God’s willing to meet us and wants to meet us face to face in the midst of all the seasons and areas in our lives. He’s the light of the world and he wants to shine in those dark places as well.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’ve got two more singles coming out and then we’re going to collect that into an EP, which is very exciting. Lots more music coming out. I’m writing, writing, writing all the time. I’m going to be recording some other stuff soon. There’s lots of stuff to come. There are lots of different dates this year. I’m doing lots of Europe stuff, which is really fun. There’s even one date in my hometown in the UK, which is really exciting.
When does the EP come out?
That will come out June. There will be 6 songs on there. I’m excited for people to hear it all as a little package.
Jake is a longtime fan of Christian music, Jesus Freak Cruiser, a techie, and a softball player. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter.
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