Interview with Worship Leader & Artist Meliza Surdi from Worship Links Organization
Meliza Surdi is a worship leader in the Bay Area of California. Recently, Meliza talked to Worship Links about her upcoming EP, worship team meetings that go beyond just practice, and the importance of being able to hear your drummer.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.
I grew up in New Jersey, lived in Florida and the Midwest, and ended up in California where I met my husband Christopher. We’ve been married for almost four years and have a two year old and a two month old and they are our whole world! I am currently a worship leader at Calvary Christian Center in the Bay Area. My favorite things include quality time with my hubby and kiddos, going for a long run, and writing music.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
I wrote my first worship song at fourteen years old during an encounter with the Lord and from there started singing on the worship team at church and youth rallies, led worship at our high school chapel, and then during the summer, toured with the Solid Rock Singers to minister musically at different churches around the nation. I began to attend several worship conferences and workshops to further this passion and even met one of my favorite leaders Darlene Zschech who is such an inspiration to me. Over the years, whatever city or church God called me to, I’ve been so honored to lead people into worship. Wherever I would be, I would meet people so broken or lost and when I realized how much the Lord was using me to help them (whether through worship, His Word, songs, prayer, or just listening to them cry out for help) I knew with all my heart that this was my calling.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I typically choose a worship set that partners with my Pastor’s message or a set closest to the theme of his series. I start out with a list of about 5-7 songs and narrow it down to 4. Then I send out these songs to the team so they can practice their parts on their own to be ready to rehearse with the team on Thursday evening.
Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?
This was such a tough question but I finally narrowed it down:
- Show Me Your Glory (Kim Walker)
- 10,000 Reasons (Redman)
- Chasing You (Jenn Johnson)
- It Is Well (Bethel Music)
- In the Highest (Citipointe Live)
If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?
Be sure to have a pastoral heart with your team. Worship leader does mean “worship pastor” so be sure you are aware of how every heart on the team is doing. Rehearsals are not just about meeting together to practice but to be united in the spirit, worship together, check in with each other, and/or just pray as a team. Always remember, worship begins with God not with music.
Advice that I wish I had been given early on is to take your time with your set. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get to finish your set. Be sensitive to what the Lord wishes to do in the transition period between each song. Now that I’ve been doing this more over the past few years, it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit really moves even deeper during our spontaneous worship.
Tell us about your upcoming EP. What’s the story behind it and when can we hear some samples?
Would love to! My upcoming EP called “Mornings with Tru” will be released this Fall. I’d love to get into detail about the whole story behind it but this would be a very long answer so I encourage you to check out my stories behind each song which will be on my blog soon at melizasurdi.com!
In a nutshell, these songs were written during a season of coming out of brokenness and coming back into writing music after taking a very long “musical break” for about ten years. I didn’t even own a piano anymore and when I got married, my sweet husband surprised me with a keyboard and I still didn’t play it until my after my first son Tru was born. I could still recall that day when my little baby banged on the keyboard which inspired me to play along with him. From there we would sit and worship Jesus on the piano as our daily morning routine and then my love songs to the Lord just started to flow from there. There was something always so sweet about doing this first thing in the morning to start our day and then it hit me how much the Bible talks about seeking Him in the morning. Also, during that season, our church offered a class called “The Ultimate Journey” which was about letting God deliver us from brokenness or things from the past that hindered our walk with Christ. It was true freedom for me and from that point on, I was able to write music again and I’ve been honored that our congregation as well as other churches began to use these new songs.
So the message in these worship songs is about deliverance and really letting God invade you as you surrender everything to Him. I am currently finishing up the final vocals and honored to be producing this project with the mission organization Sound of the Nations. But I have to say that this project would not be finished without my husband’s help. God blessed us in this season where I can be home with our kiddos and focus on music and leading worship. He is such a supportive husband and I am so grateful for that!
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
I am really curious about what God will be doing with worship in the church in the future but my prayer is that as Christ remains the center, we would be able to go deeper and deeper like never before.
What scriptures speak the most to you about worship?
Corporate worship is essential but those quiet moments with God are just as important… where we pour ourselves out to Him in our very own worship when we are alone with Him and these soaking times even help with being connected to every moment of the day so I love Psalm 71:8 which says, “My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long”… I truly love this verse because He is the one who deserves worship all day long no matter what we are doing.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
For some reason, I couldn’t hear my drummer while leading on the piano during the middle of a song and when we all went back into the chorus, our timing was off. So instead of just going on like I would normally do, I totally stopped playing and singing and said, “whoops…” which was so loud in the microphone. But in all honesty, I felt terrible more about distracting the flow of worship than getting embarrassed…but I am sure God was OK with that silly mistake
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
We just launched my site so music is not yet up but please feel free to check out www.MelizaSurdi.com.