UK's worship leader Lou Fellingham's has recently released her new album Made for You (Live). If you've spent any time listening to Christian music, the chances are you've already heard Lou Fellingham sing. Not only as a songwriter and worship leader but as a woman who has been an ever-present in the music industry for the last 20 years. An internationally known worship leader, six albums in to a firmly-established ministry, she is known for her prophetic edge, distinctive voice, unwavering energy to see lives changed through the power of music and word.
With a heart that longs for people to know God and his outrageous love, Lou is tireless in her pursuit to write and record powerful songs and to lead people in singing truth that lifts their heads and stirs their hearts. Her critically acclaimed albums are packed with inspiring melodies wrapped around God exalting lyrics to remind us of who He is and who He has made us to be.
Embodying authenticity, spiritual integrity and communicating the power of the gospel has always been the anchor of her music, underpinning and emphasizing her musical gifting.
Q: Lou, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Tell us more about your own ministry -- how were you called to be a worship leader? And whereabouts are you serving now?
Thanks for asking me Timothy. I really appreciate it! When I first started singing about Jesus, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a 'worship leader' to be honest. I knew from a young age that I wanted to tell people about Jesus through singing and that's where it began. Over the years I have been involved in many singing groups, bands and eventually ended up in Brighton, England, where I joined a band called Phatfish. We were together for 20 years.
Since then I have continued to write songs, preach, share, lead in various ways through song and spoken word around the UK and Europe and occasionally into other countries. I love Jesus, I love the church and people and l love singing/music and God's Word. All these things combined have led me to where I am today. I currently go to Emmanuel Church in Brighton where I lead on a regular basis. I also serve in other places leading worship at conferences and local churches, as well as doing concerts under my own name which are very worship focused but also evangelistic. I also do some worship training and occasional preaching! I appear to have many hats! HA!
Q: You have just released your new album. Why did you entitle it "Made for You"?
When searching for the title of the album we quickly realised that none of the actual song titles really sounded like album titles, so we had to dig a little deeper. As we did this, we noticed the journey these songs were taking us on was reminding us that our highest calling and reason for existence is having relationship with God. "Made for you" was a line in one of the songs and seemed to sum up the overarching theme very nicely!
Q: On this new album not only did you co-write with many famous writers, but you also co-wrote with your husband and your own sister. What's it like to write with family?
FUN! Nath and I have been writing for many years together. We enjoy the banter. We enjoy the process of piecing melody and truth together. We often find the process helps us go deeper in our walk with God and also deepens our relationship with each other. I really enjoy it! (I didn't actually write with my sister on this project although I did write with my brother in law!)
Q: This is your second live recording. Where was this album recorded? What were some of the highlights for you about the live recording?
"Made For You" was recorded at the Capitol Theatre in Horsham. I love being able to see people as I sing, so I was really keen to do another live album which would build on the last.
In the run up to the recording I went to 5 different churches and taught the songs to about 100 people in advance. This meant there were enough people in the room who knew the songs on the night. But I also found that going through the process of teaching the songs and sharing the stories behind them allowed expectation to grow for what God might do through the evening.
The evening of the recording was an amazing night of celebrating Jesus and all he has done for us. We prayed that people's heads and hearts would connect with God in a powerful way and I believe that this was happening throughout different moments in the evening. I know that people encountered God that night and that He was glorified, which is more important to me than anything else. The venue was full of friends and family, both on and off the stage so I immediately felt at home and just felt privileged to have the opportunity to share the evening with everyone there.
Q: One of the album's most moving piece is "Miracle or Not," which you co-wrote with Alisa Turner. The song speaks of absolute trust in Christ in the midst of suffering. How did this song come about?
In Spring 2018 I had the enormous privilege of coming over to Nashville for an Integrity Music Songwriting Retreat. We had the opportunity to write with lots of different artists/songwriters from around the world. One afternoon I was feeling a little lost and wasn't sure who I was going to write with. Michael Farren walked past and said, 'Hey Lou, who are you writing with this afternoon? Do you wanna write with me and Mark?" I jumped at the chance, knowing that they are both incredible writers and this time together would only be a blessing! I have to say, it did not disappoint.
As we sat down to write, Alisa walked in the room. Clearly not feeling well. She was looking for her car and asking Michael for some help to get to it. She slumped down into the chair and shared a little of her story. It was so moving to hear. We prayed, she found her car and then she left the room. After she left, the three of us (Michael, Mark and myself) chatted saying wouldn't it be great to write a song for her.
As we did this, we tapped into moments that we have journeyed personally or with friends and also, of course, thinking about Alisa. Songs are such great ways to give people permission to articulate how they are feeling when they don't really know how to put it into words. This was one of those moments. Honesty and truth are so crucial when writing these sort of songs. We can't pretend. We can't brush it under the carpet. God calls us to be real. He loves us to be honest with Him which is one of the wonderful things about our faith as Christians.
The reality is that sometimes life sucks. There are moments we wish we didn't have to walk through. Moments we long to see changed. But no matter what situations we find ourselves in, the truth of who God is doesn't change and we have to cling on to that, speaking out the truth that God does love us and will never let us go - even when we struggle to find the hope in the hopelessness. I also think that it's important for those of us who believe that God DOES still do miracles today, that our theology is robust enough to be able to process times when we don't see the miracle we're praying for.
Q: How does worship help us in times of sufferings?
There are so many different expressions of worship. So many ways we are called to outwardly and inwardly express our worship and in different seasons it can look very different! Honestly, I think that worship is key whatever our season. Acknowledging that God is God and we are not. Surrendering our will to His and trusting that He is who He says He is, He will do what He says He will and that He loves us and wants the best for us. It's absolutely essential to living. Worship lifts our gaze off ourselves and onto Christ.
Worship draws our attention off our circumstances and back to God. Our perspective changes. Not to say that we have to pretend our circumstances don't exist, but more that as we lift our gaze to God and remember who we're coming to, we find one has actually suffered himself and so truly understands. But after Jesus' death came his resurrection and ascension. We don't get to experience full relief from suffering now but as we come to one who is now seated in victory on the throne, we're reminded of our future hope, and we can know supernatural peace which surpasses our understanding.
Worship is a wonderful way to help us understand and remind us of the heart and character of God. As we sing and declare these truths we are edified. God calls us to worship Him through all circumstances not because He needs it but because it is best for us! Now don't get me wrong. We worship Him because He is God and He alone is worthy of our full adoration and surrender, but as we do this, as we remember, as we surrender, we receive. He is so kind to us.
King David would often worship God in the Psalms with honesty and truth. Remembering God is a God of love even when life is tough is so important.
Just an aside. If you are walking a difficult road right now and you can barely sing, you can barely make a sound, let me encourage you that it's ok to not be bouncing off the walls and making a loud, joyful noise. It's ok if your worship sounds like a groan or a wail...God sees the heart. God knows that even in that you are directing your groan and your sorrow towards Him. Even bringing that sound towards Him, even with doubts is still showing that you are surrendering to Him.
Q: In my review of your album, I raved about "Wonder of the Cross." The song is so rich with theological truths and it can rival some of the classic hymns of the church. What's the story behind this song?
Thanks. I so appreciate your encouragement!
This song started a few years ago when a friend of mine, who had been a Christian for a long time, messed up. Like properly messed up. It had impact on many people. I was sad for them. I was praying and interceding for them. Singing for them. As I was doing this I remember having a bit of a chat with God. "What now God? What do they do now? How do they come back from this?" It was as though He gently reminded me that it was the same place as always! THE CROSS. Whether we have been a christian for a long time or a short time. Whether our sin would be deemed great or small. THE CROSS is the only answer. The cross is our beginning place and our end. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the only thing we can depend on to be our salvation. So often we still try to save ourselves. Sometimes without realising it. The truth is that none of us can save ourselves. Every day our only standing before God is what Jesus has accomplished. It's actually so releasing to live in the truth of that!
As I was praying for my friend the start of the chorus came out and then lived with me for quite a while. Sometimes when songwriting you have an idea that can be used straight away. Sometimes it's a bit of a slow-burner and sometimes it's just stored for the right time! This was one of those.
Nathan, myself and a good friend called Sam Blake came together and began to piece the song together. Essentially we wanted to write a song about the cross that would be really theologically strong, feed people and hopefully bring faith to people. As Christ died and has risen, so, as believers in Christ, have we! WE don't need to live like He's in the grave. WE don't need to live like we're in the grave. Jesus is alive and now so are we!
Q: "Made for You" came almost two years after your last album. It's a long time for many of us who are fans. So, are you currently already working on your next project?
Well. This year has been pretty frantic BUT, I have quite a few voice memos on my phone that need to be fully written. There are some ideas buzzing, so I am sure it will not be another 2 years before you hear something new!
Q: Many who are reading this interview are worship leaders serving in churches of various sizes. What encouragements do you have for them?
Ah. Theres' so many things!
1) Love your people
2) Love God more than your people
3) Honour the Holy Spirit and remember that He is the greatest worship leader. He leads us into truth. He reveals. Remember He is God. He is not a 'thing' but He is a person.
4) Honour your leaders
5) Remember that God is in your preparation too. Often people can think it's more full of the Holy Spirit if you don't prepare or go 'off piste' a little. I'm not sure this is true. There are moments when God gives you a list in advance, you can stick to it and God is moving. Other times, we can prepare and then we get led to go in a different direction in the moment. God is in both of these!
6) Be expectant. As we worship God is moving and working in people's hearts and minds. The kingdom of God will be advancing. Be expectant for healing, deliverance, salvation. Gifts of faith and peace to be deposited. As we lift Jesus high the enemy is de-throned.
7) When leading, make sure you're serving the context you're in. Song choices need to be governed by who you're serving. Often our churches can be a little slower than we would like to move forwards but we need to be patient!
8) Make sure you always include the gospel in your song lists. There will always be newcomers coming in, so including the gospel in your song list is so important. But also as christians, we never move on from our need of the gospel!
9) Fill your set lists with songs that are full of truth and God directed so people have opportunity to be fed, to have revelation of God. It's then out of that place that we can respond.
10) Be a worshipper off stage as well as on. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. We need to be authentic. Make sure you are enjoying God when no-one is watching as well as on the stage. This is crucial.
11) Have fun and enjoy God
There are so many more! These are just a few that come to mind!