Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons founded De Montfort Music in 2012.
Their first CD release was Advent at Ephesus, featuring the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, a contemplative community located in northwest Missouri.
The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Traditional Classical Music Chart, besting the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Placido Domingo and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It stayed at No. 1 and concurrently went to No. 3 on Billboard’s new-artist chart, took the No. 1 spot on Barnes & Noble’s online ranking for all music and ranked No. 4 overall at Amazon.
In one sense, it was no surprise for the entertainment-industry veterans — Kevin worked for Columbia Records/Sony Music in Los Angeles; Monica worked for DreamWorks, SKG.
In 2007, the couple walked away from their music-industry jobs and founded Aim Higher Media (De Montfort Music is a division of Aim Higher), aiming to bring Blessed John Paul II’s motto — "Totus Tuus!" — to the world through art and good entertainment.
With De Montfort Music (DeMontfortMusic.com), the Fitzgibbonses want to bring the very best in sacred music and chant to the world.
In early December, they talked about their faith and their work.
How did you two meet?
Kevin: Monica and I met while in New York, when we worked for Sony and Dreamworks. We started dating, found out we were both Catholic, and that was a good thing! While dating, we took another look at our lives, and both of us agreed we weren’t seeking the devout life as much as the "me" life. We slowly started coming back to the Church. The closer we got, the more we realized that if we were going to set our marriage on a solid foundation we couldn’t lead a double life anymore. Soon after our first child was born, we found ourselves walking more away from the secular side of the music business.
When you did that and founded Aim Higher Media in 2007, what was your goal?
Monica: We wanted to help artists, encourage them and make it be a positive art. It’s very difficult to get projects off the ground and things like licensing, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We had been involved in many projects in the past.
How did De Montfort Music evolve?
Monica: De Montfort Music came out of that (goal to make positive art). Kevin wanted to have a place for the religious orders to put their music out and not have to go directly to global entertainment companies. This gives them a good opportunity to have more ownership of their image and their music. Kevin came up with the great idea to have De Montfort Music so that these orders know they have a fertile haven for their music, but not let the world take too much of their life over. We’re the go-between between those two worlds.
The first project is the Benedictine Sisters’ Advent at Ephesus. We gained a distribution deal through Decca, which is the largest classical-music distributor of that genre of music. It’s a wonderful collaboration. Our goal was to add into the culture some good and positive forms of entertainment not seen in recent times … much like discovering a Michelangelo painting.
Kevin: One of the main reasons both Monica and I wanted to build De Montfort Music specifically around (religious) orders is that we felt these priories and monasteries are strong and vibrant. We met the Benedictines of Mary and saw how absolutely perfect their singing was — it’s some of the most beautiful music you’ll hear, a slight view into heaven. It deepened our commitment of what we wanted for De Montfort Music.
How did you come to name your company after a saint?
Kevin: Our journey started with a very dear friend of ours, who was kind enough to educate us and to answer a lot of our questions. Out of these conversations, we were introduced to the book Aim Higher: Spiritual and Marian Reflections of St. Maximilian Kolbe by St. Maximilian Kolbe. That’s why we named the company Aim Higher.
His deep devotion to Our Lady led us to St. Louis de Montfort and his book that I got for a gift for Christmas for Monica, True Devotion to Mary. That book and St. Maximilian Kolbe led to consecrating ourselves to Our Lady and the enthronement of our home to the Sacred Heart.
How did the enthronement come about?
Monica: It was a book by Cardinal Raymond Burke, The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We were very young in our family life, and, really, Cardinal Burke thought of everything. It’s a school, a way to walk you through the enthronement of a family. Kevin, being head of the domestic church, said that we should do this enthronement.
I had been a working woman in the world and around celebrities. To go from that to being a wife and mother and really letting someone else take the lead in the household, I didn’t even realize that was important. Kevin was to be the head of our domestic church.
I really do believe that enthronement brought us together in our marriage and our domestic church. Nothing has been as profound as this home enthronement, as carried out by Cardinal Burke’s book.
Kevin: It also encouraged me to go out and introduce myself to our pastor, join the Knights of Columbus, do the consecration to Our Lady and start Eucharistic adoration. A nice relationship developed with our pastor.
Monica: We never had a priest in our home because we didn’t feel we were holy enough. We had so much respect we didn’t want to burden them. But there’s no way to do this home enthronement effectively without a priest.
You specifically mention John Paul II’s motto — "Totus Tuus" — in relation to your company. How did he influence you?
Kevin: We noticed his love of Our Lady. And we noticed another thing: We had been working with rock stars, actors and famous people in the entertainment industry. In the world of live performance, that immediate feedback is very tempting … our temptation to pride. When we saw John Paul II, we saw him up there with thousands of people in the audience, who were calling out, "John Paul II, we love you!" We were always wondering: How did he remain so humble? How did he do it (the constant humility)?
We learned more about his devotion to Our Lady. It’s the whole miracle of Our Lady of Fatima: Who among us can say we took a bullet for Our Lady?
Monica: How does someone get that way? That "Totus Tuus" is a big clue. You’ve got to know his devotion to Our Lady. That’s the secret of his success, and that’s what we discovered.
I understand you also had a saint connected with the album.
Monica: We tell people St. Thérèse the Little Flower and St. Francis of Assisi are also on the CD. Their first-class relics were standing between Mother Cecilia, singing and conducting, and the choir of the sisters.
A lot of the proceeds are going to the sisters. They have the great "problem" of a growing order, and along with that comes debt. One of the other reasons we’re doing this (with De Montfort Music) is that we want to help relieve their debt. They’re all very young; it’s a very beautiful endeavor to support. If you buy the CD directly from the sisters’ website (BenedictinesofMary.org), they get a little extra. They are praying to the Little Flower to help them with this.
St. Thérèse had several sisters who were nuns as well. How many children do you have?
Kevin: Five. The oldest is 9; then 7, 6, 4 and 1; two boys and three girls.
Monica: We pray they all have religious vocations.
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.