When Hillsong Young & Free started making music in Sydney back in 2012, Melodie Wagner had no idea their music would take them all over the world. She’s been with the group since the start, and the last six years have flown by for her.
‘The beginning stages were so raw and fun,’ she told Alex, ‘and I love what I get to do. It’s such an incredible honour to lead people in worship, and give a source of encouragement.’
‘By the grace of God, we’ve got an incredible reach, and I never thought personally that I would be a part of bringing our sound, this Young & Free sound, to the world.’
Their new album is called III, and its songs tell the third chapter of the band’s story, with some of their most personal lyrics to date. ‘We could have gone for something really deep and profound,’ Melodie said, ‘but I guess we wanted to remain honest, and let this album be a marker for us on the journey.’
‘We’ve been doing this for I think about six years, but there’s a lot of life that can be lived in six years, and our hope is that people would find the honesty, that they would hear the honesty, and enjoy the album.’
Their journey has taken them places they could never have dreamed of, including the world’s most famous music awards, the Grammys, where they were nominated for best Christian pop album in 2016. When Melodie called Alex from the US, they were practising their Spanish for a tour of South America.
They’d also just appeared on the Today Show, one of the highest rated morning programmes in the country. It shows that Christian music is more accepted in the mainstream over there. ‘People want hopeful music,’ Melodie said. ‘They want a positive, encouraging sound to listen to. So that was a really cool opportunity.’
surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up, and friends who are going to tell you what you need to hear, and not necessarily what you want to hear
For Melodie, the excitement of seeing God move people through her music hasn’t worn off. ‘It’s crazy. Just to see people respond to this message and this song, it just shows what God’s doing across the Earth. And people are hungry to worship, and people are hungry for truth. I have to pinch myself sometimes. It’s pretty cool, what we get to be a part of.’
With 17 tracks to choose from, Melodie found it hard to pick a favourite off the new album, though she’s really enjoying singing the latest single Let Go. She also mentioned Every Little Thing, for its uplifting chorus, which promises that ‘every little thing is gonna be all right.’
‘To sing that, no matter what season you’re in, is pretty powerful. And know that God is in control, and that He has your life in His hand.’
That certainty is part of the answer to a question a listener had for Melodie. Amos, one of our Vision180 listeners, asked her, ‘How do you deal with temptation?’
‘I feel like as Christians, there’s so much temptation that we face on a daily basis. And I guess, me personally, there’s temptation all around. There’s temptation to lie, there’s temptation to get angry, there’s temptation to be insecure.’
She has always been a worshipper, and whenever she faces tough situations, she knows that everything she needs is in Jesus. She encourages us not to lose that focus, and to Word of God be who you are. ‘Let it encourage you, and in those moments where it is tough, because life is tough, it’s not always easy, to actually draw strength from who God is.’
‘What I’d also say is just surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up, and friends who are going to tell you what you need to hear, and not necessarily what you want to hear. I feel like that’s key—to do life with people who are even further along in the journey of life than you. I feel like that can really spur you on.’
‘I thank God for people who’ve stuck by me, and who continue to encourage me, and even challenge me at times.’
Melodie says the band have no plans of slowing down, and they’re enjoying taking the songs out on the road. ‘I think we would be crazy not to pursue what God has put in our lives and in our hearts, which is to reach people, young and old, with this message, that freedom is from Jesus, and that we are called to be young and youthful in spirit.’
‘So definitely more to come from us, and in the meantime, we hope that this album would encourage people, whatever season they’re in.’
Listen to the new album below.