Melody in tune with worldwide success
The Esther Melody Band’s increasing success is set to force some tough decisions – including the likelihood of a permanent move to the United States.
Singer-songwriter Melody, a recent winner of Maorioke, and her brother Caleb Smith are based in Porirua, while fellow band members Hamish Maude and Jared Stevenson are from Auckland and Rotorua respectively.
The group is not long back from a trip to the United States and Canada, where they wowed crowds with their up-tempo style of Christian rock.
The culmination of their journey came at Immerse, a music conference and competition hosted by the Gospel Music Association in Nashville in late July.
Up against regional winners from the US and several entrants from other countries, Melody took out the award for young vocalist (age 13 to 25). The group was judged best band and placed third in songwriting stakes.
‘‘We applied [for the competition], saying we’d love to be involved. They checked us out online and we got the invite,’’ Melody says. ‘‘The whole thing was insane. So many of the vocalists had voices like Beyonce and I was like ‘what am I doing here?’. I was confident of being in the finals but no way did I think I’d win. It was unreal. I was so stoked.’’
Judges’ comments included: ‘‘ Young, vital and passionate and connected with the audience’’; ‘‘ You get it as an entertainer’’ and ‘‘I think we’re looking at the future here, you’re as good as anything on the radio right now’’.
The road trip from Los Angeles to Portland, Vancouver to Kansas City, Nashville to Houston, and back to LA, was ‘‘ amazing, just an incredible time’’ says Melody. Despite four new transmissions on their van, the entire journey ‘‘just felt so right’’.
The motivation behind the tour was to compare themselves with the best unsigned Christian artists in the US, and they came out on top.
A lot of interest from record labels followed the Immerse success and the band now has some major decisions in front of them. They are in the midst of recording two albums in New Zealand and will tour the US early next year, with dates already set, and a permanent move looking likely.
‘‘Over there it’s about pushing to be the best and that’s what we want. We’re getting known here in New Zealand but I don’t think our music fits,’’ says Melody.
The band’s style will soon be heard by a mainstream audience, courtesy of the New Zealand rowing team’s official song for the World Rowing Championships, at Lake Karapiro from October 30.
Sky Television commissioned the video for Go For Gold, and it is expected to receive plenty of airtime in the lead-up to the event.
The band’s video for the song, which was recorded and filmed in Houston, can be viewed online at YouTube. Enter ‘‘Esther Melody, gold’’.
Melody rules: Esther Melody, second from left, with band members Caleb Smith, Hamish Maude and Jared Stevenson, and bookended by two Gospel Music Association representatives. They are on the verge of breaking big in the United States, with huge interest from labels after performances at a major music expo.