Catholic Mom Music Spotlight

Rick Marcantonio
The Shoes of the Fisherman

 

CM:  Please tell our CatholicMom.com readers about your background with the Catholic Church and about your music ministry work.

I am a ďcradleĒ Catholic from a devout family, and was educated primarily in Catholic schools (before college). We moved around a lot -I went to 3 high schools! I had a hard time making friends, and was  lonely. I started making music when my mother bought me a guitar for my 16th birthday. She thought that it would be a good outlet for me, and she was so right. It was one of the best things ever to happen to me. I started playing for Masses at high school, and have played at Mass since then (that was 1975, so itís been 28 years and I feel like Iím just starting). For many years, I served as a choir director at a wonderful parish in Chicago (St. Gregory the Great), but since moving to the suburbs I am happy to serve as a parish musician under the leadership of a dear friend. I am proud to have been singing and playing at Mass for all these years, and look forward to leading Godís people in song for many years to come.

CM:     
The selections on your cd are all your own compositions.  What is the inspiration behind your lyrics and how do you select the themes for your songs?

When I began writing music in 1978, I tried to write ďsecularĒ music. It didnít occur to me that it was God-centered, but in a jam session another musician asked me, ďHavenít you ever written anything without God in it?Ē I realized then that I didnít really WANT to write music without God in it! As I look back and think about it, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother have been, are, and will continue to be my inspiration.

Generally, I select themes based on the readings and prayers used for whatever season the Church is going through. Our Catholic Church is set up so beautifully to go through the seasons on yearly reading cycles (A, B, and C). That gives you so much to choose from Ė virtually ALL of Scripture! Specifically, I use Scripture, prayers of the Saints, and prayers used in the Liturgy. I write my own lyrics rarely (who can compete with Scripture, the Saints, and Mass?), but when I do I use the life of the Blessed Mother as my inspiration. People tell me that one of the most moving songs I have ever written and performed is called ďThe Gentle Mother.Ē I tried to use my own emotional experience as a parent to imagine how three moments in Maryís life must have felt to her: Holding Christ on the night He was born; holding Him as a little boy; and holding Him in the tomb. Who would NOT be moved, especially parents, when you imagine feeling what she must have felt at those tender moments!

CM:  I noticed that there are many people involved in the cd, and also that your family members play various roles in the project.  Could you please tell us more about your family?

I met my wife, Lori, at St. Gregoryís 25 years ago. She was 16, I was 19. She had joined the choir there the very week I started attending St. Gregoryís. Of course, I joined immediately! Weíve been together for 25 years now, and have been married since 1982. We still love to sing together. We have three children: Erika (20), Emily (19), and Rick (16). Erika loves ballet, and studied it for several years. There was no way to include her dancing on my CD, but Iíd like her to   choreograph some dance for our annual May Crowning. Emily loves to sing, is already a lot better than I am, and is now studying voice and music education at Illinois State University. Rick loves to play the drums, and has for a few years now. I thought that including them would be a great way to tie all of the loves of my life together: God, the Holy Catholic Church, music, and family.

CM:  Please share the story behind the making of this CD...what motivated you to record the CD and where the profits are used?

I have been writing Catholic music for 25 years now, and over the years many people have asked me for recordings of one song or another. The songs on this CD represent a few of the more requested songs. We did record some songs back in 1983, but it was very expensive to rent studio time, get musicians together, etc. I was getting frustrated over the years because I had all this music gathering dust, people were asking for it, and I couldnít afford the studio time. Lori and I talked it over and decided that, slowly over the years, I could put together enough recording equipment to record at home to the best of my ability. It may not be the polished quality of a recording studio, but I can spend many more hours on a song than at the studio, and there is no limit to how much I can record.

Once upon a time, I had dreams of being able to record my music and make a profit. Children and married life have definitely made a realist out of me! I decided that it wasnít my calling to make a living as a Catholic musician or composer. St. Francis once said something like, ďWhat you are is Godís gift to you; what you become is your gift to God.Ē Based on that, I decided that perhaps it was my calling to make my music a gift to the Church. By giving away the music, I can do three things at once: Give people a product definitely worth a donation; raise money for the Catholic Church; and defray just a little of the expense of doing it. Whatever I can raise over and above the 2 or 3 dollars per CD that it takes to actually duplicate them goes directly to the Church or affiliated organizations. For example, the first pressing of 100 CDs primarily went to my current parish, Resurrection Catholic Church in Woodstock, IL. We are small, our debts are big; I think most Catholics can relate to that! Fortunately, I was able to raise $700 in donations, and Father has put that money to very good use. For the next pressing, all profit goes to FirstWay of McHenry County here in NW Illinois, a crisis pregnancy center that supports Moms and families who might, in despair, choose abortion.

CM:  What future music projects do you have in the works?

In 2004, I will be recording many more songs that I have written. I like to combine old and new material, so this CD will feature several more songs people have been asking for, and a few new songs, 2 of which also are about and dedicated to the Blessed Mother. I donít try too hard to write them, I let them come under inspiration, and lately the inspiration has directed me toward our Blessed Mother. Of the two songs I plan to include about her, I think ďHerself A Rose/Ave Maria,Ē is one of the best pieces I have ever written. Iím really looking forward to recording it.

CM:  Are you a full time musician?

No, Iím strictly an amateur. Iím actually a psychologist by training. I had a few guitar and voice lessons when I was 16, but in my 16-year-old arrogance, I quit after just a few. I dearly wish now I had seriously taken lessons.

CM:  What advice would you give Catholic parents looking to help their families make musical selections?  How can we help support Catholic recording artists?

Please donít be afraid that you are ďcensoringĒ what your kids listen to if you find it objectionable and donít want them playing it. Look at it this way: You provide them with nutritious food for their bodies, challenging education for their minds, and rich Catholic doctrine for their souls. Think about the impact of music, then: Music is consumed by their hearts, minds, and souls! As a father and as a psychologist, I can tell you: Kids need discipline; they need boundaries; they need to know what the rules are and to see them clearly, compassionately, and consistently applied. They need to know by your behavior that you care about what comes into the house and into their heads. Most likely, you have in the past protected them from TV shows, movies, and video games that you find objectionable. Why then treat music any differently? If anything, itís even more pervasive.

Music is a public, not a private, art. Do not let them sit in the solitude of their room and play whatever they want, whenever they want, as often as they want. Thatís not freedom, thatís license, and itís decidedly unhelpful to them. So, hereís a litmus test: Your kids should be able to play whatever CD they own right in front of the family; if they cannot recite the words publicly without shame or embarrassment, then thereís a problem.

I didnít realize any of this myself until my oldest kid was about 13.  I heard what she was playing in her room, so I went in, picked up the CD jacket, and read the lyrics out loud. WHOA. This stuff couldnít have been more full of despair or more anti-woman! I let Lori listen to it, too, and that was it; that stuff had to go. The first step was my wife and I spending time with all 3 kids, pointing out exactly what the music was saying to them, and how it was saying it in plain English. They honestly hadnít seen the problem; having them read the words out loud to us, and explain their themes, did the trick though.

The second step was that we exposed them to Christian music on the radio, in the stores and on the Internet. If you want to find Christian artists out there who play rock, rap, hip-hop, etc., but do so to the words of Scripture, then tune in the local Christian radio station, and make it a point to listen to it regularly in the car and at home. Thereís a ton of Christian music out there for kids, and they will start picking up what they like. If your kids go to a Catholic school, then you should insist that hired DJs play some of this music at school dances.

The end result for our family was that gradually (none of this happens overnight), the kids started asking for, playing, and humming stuff by Steven Curtis Chapman, dcTalk, and 4Him, for example. Thatís not all they listen to, of course, but I can see by their CD collections that they have become much more discerning consumers, and see for themselves the difference between music thatís uplifting and music thatís degrading.

If youíre looking for artists who are explicitly Catholic, then youíll have to start nosing around the Internet at Catholic web sites (search for Catholic music; many sites can be found). John Michael Talbot is a wonderful first choice for many people, although my kids think his music tends to be aimed at a more mature audience. In my opinion, the Catholic music market is still in its infancy. Thatís good news! Itís maturing as we speak, and you can help to shape it. Check the internet for Catholic recording artists who are marketing themselves to kids. Theyíre out there. There may even be something at a Catholic book store near you. Explore the alternatives together with the kids. Thatís the best way to support the new Catholic market Ė get out there, explore it, listen to the demos, buy what you like and what the kids like, and buy it for your local Catholic Youth Group as a donation.

CM:  Who are some of your favorite musicians?

My favorite Catholic composers are, by far, Michael Joncas and John Foley. On the Christian music side, I like 4Him, dcTalk, and Steven Curtis Chapman. In secular music, a few of my favorites are Cat Stevens, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ian Anderson, and the Irish group Altan (my last name would never tell you this, but Iím half Irish and I LOVE Irish music to death).

CM:  Are there any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share with our readers?

One comment. I would like to say thank you to all the mothers, grandmothers, and godmothers out there, on behalf of sons (like me) who never really figured out how to just say ĎThank you,í without a Hallmark card, or never acted like we were grateful. We are MUCH more than grateful. We are who we are in some way because of you and what you provided for us. You are made in the image of the dear Blessed Mother Mary, and our very existence is owed to your loving ďBe it done,Ē whispered from your soul to the mind of God at our conception. Thank you, and may God abundantly bless you, and Mary keep you.
 

 

Rick Marcantonio's Discography

ORDERING THE CD

Rick shares:  "I have a small, fairly plain website where you can order my CD or listen to MP3s. You can find that at http://rjmlam6582.tripod.com. My e-mail address is rjmlam@rickandlori.net. Finally, my mailing address is:

RJ Marcantonio
1110 Heavens Gate
Lake in the Hills, IL 60156-4868

The suggested donation for the CD is $15 (which includes US Mail postage), but no donation is refused."

 

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