“Her melodies are surprising and infectious, her songs so guileless and whimsical. When I feel like I’m out of song ideas, Melanie reminds me to look around, pick something beautiful, and sing about it.”
— Andrew Peterson, singer-songwriter
“I knew I would grow up to be a singer,” says Melanie Penn, who sang her first notes at her church’s Christmas Eve service when she was six years old. From there, she took what she calls a “winding road” through arts competitions, classical and operatic training, conservatory, and then several years in the New York City theater scene.
She spent her 20s on the road with the Broadway tour of Grease! and was an award-winning actress in regional theater. After that, she focused more on songwriting, recording, and performing. She works closely with Tim Keller, with the Redeemer City to City team and as a worship leader at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Penn released two critically acclaimed independent albums, Wake Up Love (2010) and Hope Tonight (2014), while also serving as a worship leader at several other New York City churches. She performs regularly in the NYC music scene with her own band, and also sings as a guest artist on many sessions and albums (Sandra McCracken, Andrew Peterson, The Gospel Coalition, and others).
She says she was “a bit of a lost soul” upon first arriving in New York, but as she watched the Twin Towers fall after the 9/11 attacks, she thought, I have to get my life together. After hearing several of Keller’s sermons, she “had a powerful experience with Jesus one Sunday. I rode the 2nd Avenue bus home, and knew my life would never be the same.”
Since then, Penn has “sought to be faithful with what God put in front of me to do — whether it was checking coats, raising money for a ministry, or singing on stage and selling records. I always sensed that a time would come when every professional experience would blend together, creating the backdrop to devote more time to my music.
“I believe God has been ushering me into a new phase — a time of fine-tuning my daily rhythms in order to pursue a gift He has given me and been growing in me for many years. My mission is to write and sing songs that bring purity, comfort, consolation, help, and reminders of redemption to the listener, accessible to everyone.”
“The song craft here is excellent, rife with careful metaphors and unlikely personifications. But Mel’s not just a cerebral, conceptual writer; her songs have plenty of pathos, humor, and heart . . . Long live Melanie Penn!”
— Ben Shive, record producer, Nashville