Catholic musician reaches listeners on ‘soul level’

| Barb Ernster | October 9, 2013 | 0 Comments
Amanda Vernon performs during the international ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. Last month, her song, “Cleaning and Scrubbing” from her new album won in the competition’s pop music category.  Photo courtesy of Amanda Vernon

Amanda Vernon performs during the international ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. Last month, her song, “Cleaning and Scrubbing” from her new album won in the competition’s pop music category. Photo courtesy of Amanda Vernon

Internationally acclaimed artist Amanda Vernon views her passion for music as a gift from the Holy Spirit to evangelize the culture.

The 26-year-old married mother of two has been singing professionally for 10 years and is currently on a year-long U.S. tour to promote her latest CD, “Interior Gaze,” a pop/soul album inspired by Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

She will perform a concert at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony Oct. 20 (see box below).

Vernon started singing at age 3 and was part of the children’s choir at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., where her father was a music liturgist.

At age 15, the parish financially backed her first recording project, and that started her music career. Vernon has performed at two World Youth Days — in Madrid and Sydney — and at numerous youth conferences around the country. She will be at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis Nov. 21 to 23.

Winning song

Vernon’s music is a mix of pop, jazz, R&B and folk. She recently won the international art competition ArtPrize in the pop category for her song, “Cleaning and Scrubbing,” beating some 75 other artists. The competition is held in downtown Grand Rapids and winners are chosen by voters from all over the world.

Her manager and husband, David Shaheen, said “Interior Gaze,” which features the song, is reaching more secular audiences with lyrics that are not explicitly Catholic but point people to beauty. Informed Catholics will pick up on the inspirations of Blessed John Paul II that others might miss. The CD has already sold out its first order.

“The sound of her voice is very soulful, but the songs have a pop, catchy feel,” he said. “It’s opening doors because she not only can sing it in a church, but also in a coffee shop or a music festival.”

Wisconsin Catholic John Bunks said he was “blown away” by Vernon’s performances at several large Catholic festivals held in Wisconsin over the summer.

He invited her to sing at Xavier High School in Appleton, where theologian and author Scott Hahn was speaking in September. Vernon performed before a crowd of 500 young people at the school and wove in her story of staying chaste until marriage to honor her father’s gift of a chastity ring when she was a young girl.

“It was touching. You were hanging on the edge of your seat,” Bunk said. “Our children are just bombarded with the opposite message, mesmerized by the Kardashian culture, and you see so many stars who crash and burn. She’s got the glamour, the voice and the showmanship, and it’s incredibly helpful for our high school kids to look up to somebody who’s not going to jeopardize their moral compass.”

Vernon said she loves meeting an entire parish community because that’s how we thrive as a Church. Music is a way to help people understand the beauty of the Catholic faith, she said, and as she branches out into mainstream venues, she is finding that people want to know about her joy.

“I’m hoping to share my music with as many people as possible, within the boundaries of maintaining a peaceful family life,” Vernon said. “As we travel the country on tour, it is evident that people are hungry for authentic art. The response to my music has been overwhelmingly positive; speaking to authentic beauty through song seems to resonate with people on a soul level.”

Concert datesAmanda Vernon performs at 7 p.m., Oct. 20 at St. Charles Borromeo church, 2739 Stinson Blvd. in St. Anthony. A freewill donation will be taken at the door, and a reception will follow.

Vernon also will perform at 7 p.m., Oct. 24 at St. James Coffee House in Rochester.

For more information, visit http://www.amandavernon.com.

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Category: Faith and Culture, Featured

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