The newest face of the acapella group Pentatonix is a former minister's kid who wasted no time in finding a home church when he moved to Los Angeles to join the quintet.
That church, subsequently, wasted little time in getting him to join its worship team.
Matt Sallee has been the bass singing “deep voice” in Pentatonix since 2017, when he joined it and began touring the U.S. and then the world with the famous group. And although Pentatonix remains his primary gig – he's on the road six months out of the year – he sings with the worship team at Expression 58 church in Glendale, Calif., when home.
That worship team, known simply as E58 Worship, released its inaugural worship album, Make Way, this month. It was recorded live.
Sallee grew up singing and helping lead worship in churches. His father is a music minister.
“I actually believe that God sent me to this church,” Sallee told Christian Headlines, referencing Expression 58. “... I remember walking in the church and just feeling this huge rushing wind of the Holy Spirit. It's something I can't even explain. It was so incredible. And I just remember watching, worshipping and being so immediately engaged in worship and free from all stigmas of what worship really means.
“I really didn't necessarily want to be a part of the worship team at first because, you know, I'm still adjusting. I'm joining this new group [Pentatonix]. But God had other plans, and almost immediately I was involved into the [church] culture, into the team. And it was so intentional, and I'm so grateful.”
Due to Pentatonix's tour schedule, Sallee isn't able to sing on the worship team every Sunday. But his schedule did allow him to join with other E58 Worship members to go on a songwriting retreat, during which they completed 20 songs – eight of which are on the 12-song album. He helped write the album's opening song, Freedom.
“I've always sang and led in churches before,” Sallee said. “And I always knew that that was one of the things that I would be doing for the rest of my life. … There's no greater feeling to me than worshipping, and expressing that for other people and bringing them closer to the heart of the Father.”
Sallee said he “embraced” his parents' Christian faith as a child and was baptized as a third grader. But as a young adult in college, he had a crisis of faith.
“I was mad at God for a while. And I was confused,” he said. “But I'm a worshipper at heart, and anytime I ever stepped foot in a church, worship music would come on, and I would immediately feel intertwined with it. I would just start bawling. Because I feel this void – I know that I have to worship. So halfway through college is when I really rededicated my life and came to that point of 'I can't live without God. I need You.'”
Sallee's faith means some of Pentatonix's most well-known Christmas songs have special meaning to him. Mary Did You Know? “is one of my favorite songs to sing,” he said. Little Drummer Boy is a “song I grew up singing in church.”
“To be able to sing these songs – and with the meaning of them and in these arrangements I love – it's really amazing to see the peace that it brings people,” he said.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Gabe Ginsberg/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.