For Pentatonix singer Matt Sallee, faith has always been front and center when it comes to his music career.
The son of a music pastor, Sallee grew up singing in church for as long as he can remember.
“I would sit next to my dad with the organ and I would sing for the church where I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland,” the 25-year-old bass singer recalled during an interview with The Christian Post. “I was involved in youth ministry and in high school ministry — my walk with God was a constant and consistent.”
But while attending Berklee College Boston, Sallee experienced what he called a “crisis of faith.”
“I thought God was going to provide a church just like my home church, and when that didn’t happen, I was upset and thought God was upset with me,” he admitted. “The enemy used people to scar me because I have the biggest heart for people. I had a difficult three-and-a-half years feeling like I was doing everything on my own.”
Yet, while performing at local concert venues and weddings, Sallee couldn’t help but feel God’s presence around him. “I would always have these dreams as a little kid where I would be performing on stages, and those dreams turned out to be visions,” he said. “Even at my lowest point, I knew God was preparing me for something greater and wanted to use my talent for His glory.”
“I knew God would use me,” he added, “and when God’s hand is on something, it can’t fall.”
Feeling a void in his life, Sallee rededicated his life to Christ halfway through college: “We were created for worship, and I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to worshiping the One who created me,” he said. “Even when I thought I was distant, I couldn’t be too distant from Him. I love Him too much; I crave being in His presence.”
In 2017, Sallee joined Pentatonix; a three-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-Platinum-selling acapella group that has sold nearly 10 million albums worldwide. Joining the secular entertainment industry, Sallee said, has allowed him to share his faith in profound ways.
“I do meet powerful people in the entertainment industry, and I've been able to minister to quite a few people,” he said.
God, Sallee emphasized, is “breaking down” the idea that celebrities can’t use their platforms to share their faith.
“You get into this entertainment industry, and you think, ‘I can’t be Justin Bieber and a Christian,’ but when you look at it, he’s leading worship more than most artists. I believe God is breaking down that mold and stigma like never before.”
Still, Sallee acknowledged that the entertainment industry can be “lonely,” adding, “It can be easy to get disillusioned; it can feel like people are always wanting or needing something from you.”
“But I’m so grateful and sometimes confused, even, like ‘Me? God can use me for this?’ I just constantly remember where it all comes from. I know the point. The point isn’t to be praised, it’s to point people to Him. With that mindset always, I enjoy what’s happening and I get to experience these incredible things while knowing there’s a greater purpose.”
In addition to his work with Pentatonix, Sallee serves as a worship leader and singer with Expression 58, a worship team in Glendale, California. The group recently released their debut album, Make Way, which features 12 songs written during a retreat that was solely focused on hearing God’s voice and making space for His voice for their community.
“This album is a beautiful recognition of God’s heartbeat around the world really coming to one space and creating one beautiful new sound which I believe is really needed for free, expressive worship; unabashed, unashamed worship and pouring out,” Sallee said. “There’s a lot of heart on this record.”
The album features seven of the community’s worship leaders, performing the songs live at E58 Church. The band is diverse, with vocalists from the U.S., Australia, Barbados, and South Africa who are professional musicians, entertainment professionals, and ministry leaders.
“This music isn’t just, ‘how great is our God,’ it’s, ‘how great is our God, and here’s why,’” Sallee said. “I feel like God is raising up a faceless, nameless worship movement where it’s not about celebrity or about the person, but about the worship.”
“I can vouch for every worship leader on the album that they have a heart of gold and they’re not worried about them; they’re worried about what God is saying at the moment and bringing glory to Him. It’s a new sound God has released from Heaven for His glory.”
Whether he’s performing for sold-out audiences with Pentatonix or leading a few dozen in worship, Sallee said his goal is the same: To draw those around him to Christ — and give God all the glory.
“No matter what comes, I trust in God’s plan and vision and keep my eyes on Him,” he told CP. “I know that as long as I’m following Him and listening to His voice, no Grammy, no Emmy, no personal accolades matter. It’s about Him.”
“He’s been working in my life since the beginning, and I feel like I’m just now starting to even realize some of the ways He’s always been there. I pray that both now and in the future, my heart posture will be in the right place, that I’m walking in obedience and listening to what God is saying to me.”