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the quiet place
Nancy, God has truly blessed you abundantly with talents. Thank you so much
for taking the time to share your latest CD "the quiet place" with our
readers. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your family
and your musical background?
NS: I currently reside in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC,
with my husband Tom. We are 20 minutes west of the Pentagon. Although I've
lived in this area most of my life, my early childhood was in New York. I
come from a big extended Italian family. Growing up, we made a "ceremonia"
of everything -- every birthday, Christmas -- and a First Holy Communion was
a major event. You would have thought the family should call a New York
Times correspondent to cover the celebration.
As I think of those early years, I can tell you that two things stand out
prominently - being in Church, and being in my big, wooded back yard. My
mother took care of the altar linens and the flowers at St. Theresa church
in Westchester County, NY. And at home, I loved to play outside, climbing on
the maple trees and huge rocks, along with my two older sisters. This was
the best playground, and truly served a child's imagination. It's these
vibrant childhood years, you know, being six and surrounded by the world
where everything is new, which helped to set me upon the creative path. At
age six, I met my love for singing, writing and performing. It was as
evident to me as the blue sky and the color of my hair, that God had
indelibly marked me "little girl muse." As the musical path was forged, I
delved into a love for the classics, and although my parents were against me
attending a conservatory, I worked around it, studied on my own, and
performed my music whenever I could. (St. Faustina's parents' didn't
initially support her vocational call either, by the way.)
LH: Clearly, your Catholic faith shines through in
your music and lights the hearts of listeners like me...what is your mission
for your music and what message do you hope to share through "the quiet
NS: Thanks, Lisa -- Jesus has been so good to me. My mission is to share the
message of His Mercy, through music. In 'the quiet place,' this Mercy is
expressed through some favorite psalms and original lyrics. My intent with
'the quiet place' is to transform the listener's space -- both the internal
space and the ambient space -- Heavenward. The words of Sacred Scripture,
and Mike Crotty's remarkable orchestral arrangements of my vocal melodies,
really help make this happen for the listener. In today's culture, we are
accosted by impositions into our personal space, such as disordered noise
claiming to be music, the incessant Orwellian babble of televisions, and an
unnaturally accelerated pace. Thus there is precious little refuge. In a
July, 2004 address in Italy, the Holy Father expressed "the communications
overload of modern society has reduced the space for silence and
contemplation." My intent with 'the quiet place' is to re-create a refuge
amidst a disordered world. God desires to speak to us, like a lover, in
Nancy, you have a tremendous devotion to St. Faustina, which compliments
your gift of song. Can you tell us more about your one-woman show "Saint
Faustina - Messenger of Mercy?" I know that you recently completed a tour of
several performances. How was this experience?
NS: Tom and I just returned from a ten-performance tour to the Chicago,
Illinois area. Tom is a great comrade on the road -- he does most of the
driving. The tour was splendid, both spiritually and artistically, and we
enjoyed meeting so many priests and speaking with the audiences after the
performances. We also spent some time with the loving Little Sister's of the
Poor -- they are awesome! During my one-woman drama, which is titled "Saint
Faustina -- Messenger of Mercy," I'm in full costume, and the script is
completely from Sr. Faustina's Diary. I want to create the persona of St.
Faustina speaking one-on-one to the audience, sharing her joys and trials.
The focus of the show is Sister Faustina's day-to-day desire for God, and
how she relies on the great resources available to every Catholic: the
Sacraments. She stresses the importance of a humble confession, and the
daily miracle of the Eucharist, and has great devotion to the Blessed Mother
-- these are facets I include in the drama, as well as background about
Divine Mercy Sunday and the "Chaplet of Divine Mercy." There is also live
music in the performance; St. Faustina truly did sing around the convent,
and she also found solace in listening to radio broadcasts of sacred music.
After the performances, both adults and children express to me their
personal experiences with Divine Mercy and Saint Faustina, and ask me for my
prayers. This completely slays me, because I'm the one needing their
prayers. I'm totally astounded by the open hearts of people -- the humility
and trust in the beautiful souls of the people I meet at the performances.
It is one of the most amazing experiences of performing, and I learn so much
from these audiences. But honestly, audiences don't come to hear me -- Nancy
-- rather, they come to see Saint Faustina, to learn about her, to get to
know her. She's the shining beacon. Toward the end of the Chicago tour,
people seemed to be coming from further away, driving longer distances, and
one women drove from Milwaukee, Wisconsin three hours to a performance. When
she told me this, I gave her a hug and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy
recording for this feat of faith -- but really, I should have given her a
tank of gas!
LH: Your compositions are your own original creations.
Can you describe some of your creative process and let us know what inspires
NS: The creative process for the artist is so intrinsic to the life process.
That's why it's so essential to be in order through Christ. We must put Him
first, and when we don't -- well, we get counterfeit art. God is the Master
Creator. If I may borrow some lines from the title song 'the quiet place' to
explain: the words are, "the painter of the soul, the poet of the heart,
the master of all beauty, all destiny His art. . . " So when we're
artistically not producing what we want, or we're blocked, then such actions
as reading Scripture, visiting the Adoration Chapel, walking through a
garden, or observing the joyful abandon of a child playing, offer true in-Spira-tion.
I've composed since I was a small child, and sometimes now when I first have
a lyric or melody idea, I feel as if I'm six years old, climbing those
trees, really living in the moment. We must 'be as little children,' and of
course children are always creating.
LH: "the quiet place" features a beautiful song
entitled "You Are The Potter" - please share the story behind this song.
NS: Thanks for asking about "You Are the Potter," Lisa. This is an intensely
personal song, with a universal message. The metaphor of the potter is from
Isaiah 64:8. This song is about death of self, and we are always needing a
death of self to renew, to create. This is what Christ did for us, in
obedience to the Father. And for the artist, God seems to give us particular
little arrows, little swords, little scourges. God sanctifies artists in a
way which pares us down to the point of being silent and speechless, and
then He completes His process by giving us life from these ashes, from our
broken hearts. As artists, we have our work of art as a tangible, and
hopefully edifying, remnant of God's sanctifying Mercy.
The song "You Are the Potter" arose during my recording sessions with
producer Bob Dawson. It was during Lent, and I was toward the end of a
30-day novena to St. Joseph. Bob, who has the producer's gift of both
humility with a strong artistic vision, encouraged me to let go of some of
my established vocal concepts, and simply to speak from my heart, with
greater vulnerability. This process necessitated shedding fears, and
replacing them with formidable trust. I think that most of us can relate to
the metaphor of this song, which is allowing God, the ultimate Producer, to
work in our lives for the beautiful result. The refrain is And when I
lift my eyes to You, all is beautiful and all is new. I let go and fall Your
way, You are the Potter, I am the clay.
LH: Nancy, how can our readers order your music? What
projects are you currently working on? How can Catholics better support
NS: I invite readers to my homepage
where there are ordering directions, some sound samples from 'the quiet
place," and performance tour updates. I can also help you find the names of
Catholic music stores, and on-line Catholic resources for not only my music,
but also for other Catholic artists. Contact me at
[email protected]. And, please be sure to ask me for my
monthly on-line "News From the quiet place," featuring reflections on St.
Faustina's writings and how we each can relate her grace-filled insights to
our own lives.
LH: Thank you so much for sharing your time and talent
- I have truly been inspired by your work and know that our readers will be
too! Are these any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
NS: I encourage Catholics to listen to music by Catholic artists with a
Catholic message, during the work commute, while preparing dinner, and
driving home from Church. As you know, playing good, holy music for children
and teens fosters a love for beauty and keeps them focused. And, you might
enjoy reading the Holy Father John Paul II's Letter to Artists, "The Way of
Beauty," in which he writes "in order to communicate the message entrusted
to her by Christ, the Church needs art."
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