Teen blends faith, music in perfect harmony on debut

| Kristi Anderson for The Catholic Spirit | November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

Jack Cassidy is pictured on the cover of his new CD.

Jack Cassidy just can’t keep from singing. At 2 years old, he was wooing audiences with his vocal talent. Now at 14, he has released his debut CD, “Be Still my Soul,” which will be launched Nov. 11 with a live concert at his parish, St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park.

Starting with Dr. Seuss

In fourth grade, Cassidy landed the role of JoJo in Maple Grove Senior High School’s production of “Seussical the Musical.”

“The show won many awards and we performed downtown at the Orpheum in front of a full house at the Spotlight Awards,” said Cassidy. “Singing a duet from the play, I was both excited and nervous.”

That role eased his nerves and propelled him toward a starring role in “Oliver” for two different community theaters, and several other title parts. Cassidy, the fifth of six boys, also participates as a cantor and soloist and sings regularly at his parish with parents, Joe and Krista, and younger brother, Connor, 7.

“My faith has played a very large role in my musical success,” he said. “It gives me the thought of giving without expecting in return. God wants us to carry out his words and I can do that by singing.”

Jacquie Okoh, musical director at St. Vincent, has worked with Cassidy since he was 9.

“Jack has a deep sense of spirituality that is rare in such a young man,” she said. “His voice reaches out to everybody’s spirit.”

Variety of influences

The influences on Cassidy’s music — and life — are diverse.

“Teddy Roosevelt is an inspiration because of what he overcame as a child and his many accomplishments as a great leader,” he explained. “Also, Stevie Wonder has been sharing his gift of music since he was very young. He didn’t let his blindness hold him back.”

Cassidy is also motivated by his family with musical roots originating as far back as Cassidy’s late grand­father, Jim Cassidy, who performed in variety shows and other events from the 1950s to the 1970s, as well as the Cassidy Brothers, a local musical group comprised of Jack’s father and uncles.

“I am inspired by all the Cassidy family Christmas concerts as well as St. Patrick’s Day concerts,” said Cassidy, “Especially Grandpa Jim. Anything he would sing was inspiring to me — I loved his voice.

“I also love hearing my uncles and aunts singing four-part Christmas songs, my uncles and dad singing Gaither vocal music in close harmony and all of my brothers and cousins singing together. I especially loved my mom and dad singing, ‘The Prayer,’” by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion.

Topping the list, Cassidy credits God for his gifts in both life and music.

“Everybody has a gift and this is mine,” he said. “It feels as if it is meant to be because of how natural it feels to sing. The thought that my singing makes others feel good is humbling.”

His music

Cassidy’s parents felt that now was a good time for Jack to release his CD, which consists of both sacred and secular music.

“At his current age, Jack’s voice will soon be changing,” said Joe Cassidy, “and it is now at a unique phase. He is thanked often for his gift.”

“A few of the songs have been sung by Jack at teens’ funerals,” he said. “Many families were moved and comforted. Other songs on the CD seem to fit his soothing timbre.”

Besides Cassidy’s vocals, the CD features instrumentalists, including Jeanne Arland Peterson, Mary Beth Carlson, Brian Brink, Steve C. Anderson and Cory Wong.

Proceeds from the CD’s sale will go toward college savings for Jack as well as for additional recordings. A percentage will also go to St. Vincent.

Sharing his gifts

Cassidy is excited to share his gifts with a larger audience.

“It feels very cool!” he said. “So many people will be able to hear my music without needing to be there in person.”

He will perform with his dad and uncles at a holiday tea event at St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove, on Nov. 18. He has also been asked to return for the Mary Beth Carlson Christmas concert on Dec. 7 in Bloomington, where he was a featured guest soloist last year.

Cassidy encourages other youth to explore their talents.

“If you are given the opportunity to share your talent, take it,” he said. “I plan to keep singing and sharing my gift from God wherever I am called to sing.”

If you goThe free concert will be held at St. Vincent de Paul, Brooklyn Park, at 2 p.m. Nov. 11. Jack Cassidy’s CD, “Be Still My Soul,” is available online.

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