Thursday, October 17, 2019

Saints of the Month: Katherine Jenkins and Lauren Daigle

Image result for images of katherine jenkins  Image result for images of lauren daigle

I love to sing. I guess it’s my Welsh heritage. There’s just something spiritual in letting yourself be transported through song. To release the sound which is beyond language—the sound your soul makes—can only really be done through music. Not only do I love to sing, I love to hear people sing. I love it when someone makes a joyful noise unto the Lord. I really love it when that person can sing well.

It’s only natural, of course, that I should adore Katherine Jenkins. I mean, what’s not to love about this exquisite classical mezzo soprano? She has the voice of an angel, she’s Welsh, and she’s cardiac-arrest gorgeous.

Ms. Jenkins has always been forthright about expressing her Christian faith. She began singing in church and often includes sacred music in her concerts and on her albums. You can hear her genuine love of God in her clear and passionate tones. It doesn’t surprise me that so many of her videos show her in sacred spaces. She seems to have been born to perform in cathedrals. Indeed, she first gained fame by singing at Pope John Paul II’s Silver Jubilee concert at Westminster Cathedral in 2002.    

There is something of the ethereal in Ms. Jenkins’ voice. Whether she’s singing classical sacred arias such as Pie Jesu and Panis Angelicus or crooning the Welsh Sunday school traditional favorite Calon Lan, there is a sweetness, a purity, and an innocence to her voice which makes me marvel that such lovely sounds could actually emanate from a human throat.

In 2014 Ms. Jenkins was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and awarded her OBE by the Prince of Wales on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. The honor was not only for her contribution to music but for her vast work for charity. She seems always at the ready to sing for needy causes, one of her fondest being the entertainment of British troops deployed oversees. I’m sure they appreciate her presence—a presence which, in spite of her beauty and fame, always seems “girl-next-door” humble.

When I have a few extra minutes at work and want to treat myself, I play one of Ms. Jenkins’ CD’s or watch one of her music videos. As a pastor, I must say I was initially a bit disappointed by the video for her Sacred Arias album in that the photography focuses more on Ms. Jenkins’ physical beauty than on the theological content of the music. I excuse this, however, by reflecting on the words of Travis Tritt: “Ya gotta love the Lord for makin’ girls like that.”

In contrast to the elegant glamor of Ms. Jenkins is the spunky contemporary Christian artist Lauren Daigle. I’ll admit that I’m not big into contemporary Christian music, but this Louisiana-born rising star has got me hooked on her sound. I love her personality, her explosively happy stage presence, and the wild carnival of clothing she wears on her back—complete with funky hats, bangles, rings, and a host of accoutrements which make the young singer unapologetically herself. One can’t experience Lauren Daigle without experiencing the joy of the Lord. I can’t help it—this kid just makes me smile.

It seems a lot of Ms. Daigle’s sense of praise arises from a past illness. She was stricken as a teenager with cytomegalovirus, an incurable viral infection which compromises the immune system. This kept the youngster out of school for two years, but Ms. Daigle maintains that this period of illness was one of the most meaningful times of her life.

After completing a year of mission work in Brazil, the future chart-topping artist entered Louisiana State University with the intent of majoring in Child and Family Studies. She sang with the LSU choir, but family and friends encouraged her to try out for the popular TV talent competition American Idol. According to Wikipedia, Ms. Daigle made three attempts to achieve stardom on the popular show, but was unsuccessful. Undeterred, the artist persisted with her music and found acclaim on her own. Ironically, Idol invited her to be a celebrity mentor for contestants during the 2019 season. I recall watching her and being so impressed with her positive vibe, her very professional approach to vocal technique, and the kindness with which she instructed the young hopefuls. She’s the kind of individual one simply would enjoy knowing.

Ms. Daigle’s break-out hit is an anthem to God’s grace and compassion called You Say. Her songwriting is personal and spiritual, and I can’t help but think that many a young person may draw strength from her lyrics. I hope she has a long and prosperous career. I’ll follow it with interest.

I take a great deal of pleasure in listening to these two musical artists, and I thank God every day for the gift of music. We should all heed the words of the Psalmist:

“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day!” (Psalm 96:1-2)

If you’d like to hear Katherine Jenkins sing, click on Katherine and hear her lead a congregation in singing How Great Thou Art.

You should also catch Lauren Daigle’s appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Click Lauren

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