It’s been some kind of year for singer-songwriter Sarah Hart. With performances last month at the ninth an--nual United Catholic Mu-sic and Video Association’s Unity Awards in New Orleans and at World Youth Day last summer in Sydney, and another coming up next month at the National Catholic Conference of Youth Ministers in Cleveland, one might think she can’t seem to catch her breath these days.
And, what with raising third grade and kindergarten-age daughters with her husband, Kev--in, in Nashville, Tenn., one might be led to further think that she wouldn’t have time to write music.
But she does, for the Spirit and Song Division of Oregon Catholic Press and for Nashville-based Tom Tichenor Children’s Theater. She will even release a new CD in January 2009. The Register’s Amy Smith caught up with her to see what keeps her going.
Your latest CD will be released in January. What is “SaintSong” about?
The songs focus on the writings of different saints, such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Augustine, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Mechthilde [of Magdeburg]. It’s a way to bring their brilliant writings to the light of day. Half are mystics. I tend to lean toward the mystical side of the faith.
It was a beautiful, fun project. I learned so much. I was amazed by these old texts. As old as they are, yet how relevant they are today. The CD will come with a devotional booklet based on the four points of devotion: read, respond, reflect and rest. Each song is divided into four components.
You’ve been awarded several Unity awards. What is the importance of the awards?
I applaud what they’re doing: to give focus to the fact that there is really good Catholic music out there. It’s surprising how many Catholics don’t know how many Catholic musicians are out there.
What’s your advice for aspiring Catholic musicians?
Be true to who God is calling you to be. Really pray. It’s not about you. That’s the first box to pray yourself out of. It’s about glorifying God with art, whether that’s in your hometown, diocese, state or the national stage. It doesn’t matter where or how.
Become better readers and writers. It’s easy to make a song, but it’s not easy to make a good song. You can’t expect them all to be the best, but we need to be careful [as Catholic musicians] to put out our best.
What inspires your music?
All of life is inspiration. I’m a wife and a mom. I work. I can’t help but write about that — what’s in my daily life. It’s kind of everywhere — even dreams. I wake up and write them down.
Would you say that your songs focus on finding God in daily life?
A saint said that “God is in all things [St. Thomas Aquinas].” It’s what God is about. He’s not just in church, but in situations. He is in everything. It can be hard to have one foot in heaven, another in the world. We just have to do the best we can along the way.
You write for children’s theater, too?
Tom Tichenor Children’s Theater uses marionettes and puppets. It’s very popular. I’m writing music for “Cinderella” right now. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a great outlet, and it’s something I can take the kids to.
How would you describe your musical and writing styles?
My musical style is so varied from song to song, record to record. My writing style reflects my love of poetry. I’m a huge fan of poetry. Poetry inspires me to write more than anything else.
Is writing your current focus?
If I could pick one thing it would be writing. If God said, “You can only do one thing,” that’s my heart’s desire and joy.
Where is God calling you right now?
Being a wife and mother. That’s my highest calling. Service to my family is service to him. After that, writing. All writing gives glory to God. Using it as a gift gives glory to him.
I want to be the best wife and mother I can be and the best writer I can in service to him.
Is it hard to trust God with your next step?
All my life I have felt I’m just here, like God has put his hand on my head like you’d lead a toddler by the head. God has his hand on my head. I’m never sure where I’m going, but I trust his hand is on my head, and I trust where he’s taking me. We can all be control freaks, but we have to go, “Okay, I’m not in control.”
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
There are so many … but probably Romans 8:38-39. [For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord].
It sounds like the busy pace keeps you going.
I’m never bored. I pray because I don’t want it to feel like a job. I want it to be: “Thank you, God, for this gift — and help me use it.”
Amy Smith is the
Register’s copy editor.
INFORMATION To check out Sarah’s music, visit SarahHartMusic.com or SpiritandSong.com