Singer/songwriter Melanie Penn writes pop songs at the crossroads of faith and culture. A singer/songwriter now based in Manhattan, Melanie was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Falls Church, Virginia.
Following several years in the theater scene, Melanie’s attention turned to songwriting and becoming a solo artist. She started collaborating with producer Ben Shive and has previously released five albums, with More Alive Vol. 1 becoming her fifth project. The album included songs "I Want to Know You," "Don’t Worry," "He Will Redeem it All," "Avenue of the Americas" and the title track. I listed it as one of my top 5 albums of 2020.
It’s exciting to hear Melanie’s new music. Her upcoming release, More Alive Vol. 2, showcases not only her gifts as a songwriter but her shimmering, emotion-laden voice. The album, which releases in July 2022, features the singles, “The Story,” “Just Jump,” “Look Up,” “How to Sing,” “Follow You,” and “Peace.”
The musical vibe of those songs sets the tone for this exceptional album, which shouldn’t be missed. Melanie has once again captivated me as it features her unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those with ears to hear. She is also a great role model for girls.
More Alive, Vol. 2 is loaded with positive grace-filled messages of hope. Her songs address the pressures of life, and she understands that true happiness and her identity only come from her relationship with God.
She has a style similar to other Christian songwriters—my favorites—Christa Wells, Sara Groves, and Ellie Holcomb. I had the chance to speak with Melanie about one of my top songs of the year, “The Melody.”
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
I wrote “Melody” while walking through Radnor Park in Nashville, thinking about all the different sounds we hear in our daily lives. If God sings about humanity, then what if all the disjointed sounds we hear were His song?
Now, we can't hear how all the notes fit together, but one day we will. I love the song’s bridge: "The same murmur on the water when the world began is in the bustle of the day and the traffic jams.” The intimacy of this ancient moment from the beginning of time juxtaposes our modern lives.
What Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Matthew 11:28-30(MSG): "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Zephaniah 3:17(VOICE): “The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.”
Psalm 30:11-12(VOICE): "You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV): "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Psalm 37:4-5(NIV): “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this.”
Psalm 33:20-22(MSG): “We’re depending on God; He’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own His holy name. Love us, God, with all you’ve got—that’s what we’re depending on.”
James 4:14 (NKJV): “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
What is the takeaway message?
More than anything, I want listeners to be uplifted and have a feeling of sunshine when they hear any of my songs. There is depth in the lyrics, I hope, which can be evident if you really listen to them. Hopefully, the melody and rhythm alone will produce a brilliant effect. More Alive Vol. 2 is the perfect sequel to More Alive Vol. 1.
All the songs fit perfectly into a genre that I like to call “hopeful anthems.” My desire as an artist is to give people little tools that they can use in their daily lives to feel better and encouraged. Not in a corny way, but in a deep and heartfelt way. More Alive Vol. 2 seeks to do just that.
The COVID era was so painful for all of us. But I must admit it yielded some of my favorite songs to date. In another time I would never have written songs like “Peace” or “The Story”—as usual, God brought beauty from ashes. I lamented the COVID era for a long time but after everything I’ve learned, I wouldn’t go back to my 2019 self.
It’s children laughin’ in the other room Or thunder clappin’ on a summer afternoon Every part of my life is a note in a melody In a song, you’re singin’ over me
I can hear it in the everyday The music of the world you made Every part of my life is a melody In a song, you’re singin’ over me And my heartbeat is the rhythm of the melody
Sometimes church bells chime And echo down the block Sometimes it’s a subway ride And strangers when thеy talk All around the city sounds a symphony It’s a song you’re singin’ over mе
I can hear it in the everyday
The music of the world you made Every part of my life is a melody In a song, you’re singin’ over me And my heartbeat is the rhythm of the melody
The same whisper on the water when the world began Is in the busy of the day and the traffic jam I can hear it if I listen, you’re always singin’
Melanie’s songs have perfectly poetic biblical descriptions of God. So many people can relate to their messages. They’re loaded with comforting messages of hope.
Breathe hope in like oxygen, and God's hope will turn whatever you’re going through into something different for His glory, a message we all need—especially these past two years of the pandemic.
Find your freedom and joy in Jesus Christ. We live in a fallen world dealing with the fear and anxiety of the COVID pandemic. But keep in mind that you weren’t made for this world. Earth isn’t your permanent home, and as expressed in God’s Word, “life is a vapor.”
Our freedom from the restlessness of this world will come when we enter the true rest that can only come from living eternally with Jesus Christ. Melanie Penn’s “The Melody” is a great way to express joy, thankfulness, and dedication to Him.
In The Message of Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us: "Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." What an amazing comfort to know that when we struggle with pain, pride, and unloving natures, we can lay it at the feet of Jesus. This is a great song to sing as a personal prayer of thanks and praise.
Too often we get wrapped up in our circumstances and get down on ourselves with negative thoughts, allowing the devil to define our self-worth. Jesus died on the cross to set us free from the battle of our minds, from sin and death. He wants us to have abundant life in Him. What a wonderful, encouraging truth.
We all have lies that we believe about ourselves. Also, we have an enemy who wants to see us fall. He does have a voice and he does speak to us, but the voice of God's agape love speaks louder.
This song encourages us to see ourselves the way God sees us. A Bible verse that references the melody that God sings over us is Zephaniah 3:17. It moves me to soak in the truth that our God sings over us.
Whatever struggle or depression you are facing, you can know that God is with you, always. The comfort and rest offered by God singing over us are beautifully captured in “The Melody.”
Melanie beautifully depicts the message of our blessed hope that God is with us in our everyday lives that we all need to hear, “I can hear it in the everyday/The music of the world You made/Every part of my life is a melody/In a song You’re singin’ over me/And my heartbeat is the rhythm of the melody.” Amen to that.
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a long-time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector, and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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