From his home base in Los Angeles, Grammy-winning musician Ray Herrmann has been making memorable music for more than two decades. He has performed alongside, and recorded with, such top acts as LeAnn Rimes, Johnny Mathis and George Benson.
He has played on Leno, Letterman and numerous other TV engagements. He was a regular with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
And yet, for all his professional success and acclaim, one of the projects he’s most excited about is a relatively humble one: Little Lamb Music, which he co-founded with his wife Theresa (who is herself an accomplished arranger and composer).
Little Lamb has partnered with the Redemptorist Fathers to produce a prayer CD of rare spiritual depth and musical sophistication — “Praying the Rosary with St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori.”
Herrmann spoke with Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen before heading out on tour with a little combo called Chicago. (Yes, that Chicago: 20 Top 10 singles, five No. 1 albums, more than 120 million albums sold).
Did you grow up Catholic?
My parents, George and Lucy, were refugees. They lost their homeland in Germany because of the war. It was rough.
My dad was drafted at 16 and was a Russian prisoner of war when he was 18. Without their faith they would not have been able to survive all the trials and tribulations they faced because of that horrific war. They eventually fled to the West, and then emigrated to this country in the early 1950s.
They brought their strong Catholic faith to my sister and myself — Mass every Sunday, don’t miss holy days, go to confession often, stay close to the sacraments and pray the Rosary.
There are many distractions in life, especially working in the entertainment industry. But there is something to be said about putting God first. Everything just falls into place. My parents showed me that from an early age.
Why did you start a music company for Catholic kids and their families?
It is through God’s grace that our faith has grown and, with it, the creation of Little Lamb Music.
Theresa and I have centered our lives on the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It just made sense to take our blessings from God and Mother Mary and share those blessings with the rest of the world, to go outward with our faith.
Our first CD was titled “Little Lamb Lullabies,” which was for our little daughter Maria when she was born a few years ago. We wanted to make a CD that included Catholic hymns that touched our hearts with an emphasis on Jesus and Mother Mary.
We included Marian songs and hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy” — songs you wouldn’t think of in a lullaby format.
Grandmothers have called us and said they bought the CD for their grandchildren but wanted another one for themselves. Because it’s an instrumental CD, parents and grandparents can sing their little ones to sleep or just sit back and enjoy the soothing and peaceful sounds.
How did you team up with the Redemptorists of the Denver Province?
The Redemptorists found us at our website. They wanted very much to reproduce the music of St. Alphonsus Liguori to help raise money for their missionary brothers in Brazil and Nigeria. They had heard our CD of lullabies and asked if we would like to work together.
Theresa and I firmly believe in the many graces of the Rosary; those graces have impacted our family beyond words. We knew of St. Alphonsus’ devotion to Our Lady and his book The Glories of Mary, and it totally made sense to partner with the Redemptorists to create this Rosary CD.
This two-CD set with all 20 decades is the first Rosary CD to feature music composed by a saint. What else is unique?
It is also the first time St. Alphonsus’ music has been recorded in this country and translated into English.
My wife, Theresa, translated the original Italian with the help of the Redemptorist Fathers. St. Alphonsus’ melodies are simple and singable. He wanted the common man to be able to sing his hymns. Yet the more you hear his music, the more you can appreciate its depth.
His music has not just human dimensions but it also touches the soul.
Did you have a difficult time getting members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Padre Serra Children’s Choir to perform and sing for the CD?
Because of my connections in the music industry, it was fairly easy to get the right musicians for this project.
When I was making the calls to gather the orchestra and told them we were going to record the music of a saint and the project was a Rosary CD honoring our Mother of Perpetual Help, the musicians couldn’t wait to get into the studio to hear the music.
I was pleasantly surprised to find many strong Catholics who wanted to play and sing for the honor and glory of God.
Did you also play yourself?
Yes. Besides writing and producing all the arrangements, I played flute, clarinet and some additional keyboard parts.
What are your future projects for Little Lamb Music and the Redemptorists?
We have started recording “Praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary with St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori” with (Redemptorist) Father Pablo Straub, an EWTN favorite.
We are also including the Cloistered Daughters and Priests of St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori with the prayers. This CD will have St. Alphonsus’ original music and meditations.
Then we are going to Rome later in the year to record “The Fourteen Stations of the Cross according to St. Alphonsus” at the Church of St. Alphonsus, again using his music, with a 38-piece orchestra.
The son of Ennio Morricone, who wrote the score for The Mission, is helping us get the orchestra and choir together. I’m working now arranging the choir parts and the music.
After that we want to do a CD featuring St. Gerard Majella (a Redemptorist and patron of motherhood and the unborn). That project is scheduled for next year.
If we can help save one soul through our projects, we will have been successful.
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
Little Lamb Music
P.O. Box 3129
Thousand Oaks, CA 91359