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Catholic Mom Music Spotlight

Nancy Scimone
the quiet place



LH: 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 place"?

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 quietude.

LH: 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 your music?

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 Catholic artists?

NS: I invite readers to my homepage www.NancyScimone.com 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 music@nancyscimone.com.  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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