Full-Time Music for God, Who Never Sleeps
Valerie Von Fange is finally doing what she always wanted to do. After years in high-tech sales, marketing and education, she is making music full time. And making it for the greater glory of God.
Last July the Huntly, Va.-based singer-songwriter released her second CD, “Steadfast Love,” after recording in Nashville, Tenn. This latest project continued the themes of 1993’s “Thy Kingdom Come,” which she released after making a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
Von Fange says her songs bring some fresh ideas to contemporary Christian music because they spotlight the teachings of the Catholic Church and stories of the saints. “Steadfast Love” touches on a variety of themes, from praising God and living for Christ to the simple joys of being a wife and mother. She spoke with Register correspondent Amy Smith.
How did you know God was calling you to pursue music as a ministry?
Music has been in my blood from the start. I started playing classical piano when I was 12. I wanted to major in music in college, but I thought I should do something more practical, so I majored in business. Music was always there, though, as a sideline most of my life, whether I was directing a choir or playing at different events. I thought, “Someday I can see doing this fulltime.”
How does the Catholic faith drive and inspire your work?
Going to Medjugorje pushed me to learn more about the richness of the Catholic faith. Protestant friends asked me a lot of questions, so I did research to get answers for them. It seems my searching made me become more Catholic. The Church’s truths are hard to dispute. I plugged all of that into my music, writing about themes like Our Lady and purgatory.
What is your main objective as a songwriter?
The main goal of my music is to share the fullness of Christ in an honest way, to talk about truths that might separate us Catholics from other Christians but that also might eventually bring us together, and to reinforce and reaffirm what Catholics already believe.
How do you approach songwriting?
A theme will hit me and won’t go away, which is probably God telling me to pursue it. I see where I can get more information about the theme, reading a book or talking with someone deeply rooted in the faith.
I work on the words first. Once the words are out, I have more of a sense as to what the music should be like. I keep working until I get the song right.
I think it’s important to run my music by other people, because they’re the audience. I want to know what touches them. I come from a musical family, so they give me their input. On this CD, I collaborated with my husband, Tom, as well as my brother, Joe.
What’s the meaning behind the title “Steadfast Love”?
It refers to a way of loving that’s deeper than society’s “fluffy” love; it refers to God’s agape love, which soothes and quenches the soul and leaves you so satisfied, like St. Teresa of Avila talked about. My hope is that people will continue to go down their prayer journey and truly feel God’s abundant love.
How does this project differ from your first CD?
From a recording perspective, it’s top-notch. When you go to Nashville, you get great quality. I recorded in the same studio where Amy Grant recorded. The people I worked with were great. They gave me a lot of leeway. It truly was my project.
For this CD, I wanted to branch out stylistically. I was trying for an eclectic mix. I love Latin music, especially the sounds of the Spanish guitar and congas played in “Missionary of Charity” and “Follow the Son.” The song about St. Augustine has a bluegrass twist, featuring dobro, mandolin and fiddle. “Till Trouble Do Us Part” is a country ballad with steel guitar and mandolin.
Out here in Virginia there’s an Irish-Catholic influence, so I wanted Celtic sounds (fiddle, accordion and pennywhistle) in the traditional hymn “Beautiful Savior.”
What message do you want listeners to take away from your music?
Seek God and his truth and his love more and more on a daily basis. In times of need, he is the first to go to. He gives our lives clarity and direction.
Amy Smith writes from
A hymn to Him
We sing our songs
Our songs of wonder
Our voices raised
He’ll fill our souls
Our souls with thunder roar
Alleluia, the lowly shall rise
The last shall be first
Alleluia, we’ll seek
Let the water soothe our thirst
— from “A Hymn to Him”
by Valerie Von Fange
- February 19-25, 2006