Charming, Cool and Catholic

With her upbeat lyrics, musicianship and a faith that shines through in every song, Sarah Hart manages to bridge the generation gap between mother and son in my home.
by Lisa M. Hendey | Source:
A Catholic Music Spotlight with Sarah Hart, Into These Rooms

As a fan and reviewer of Catholic music, I am pretty broad minded when it comes to listening tastes. I’m equally at home with liturgical
“covers”, chant, or a hip-hop priest. But I know I have a winner on my hands when I pop a CD into my car stereo and my thirteen year old son doesn’t automatically start whining. Based on this criteria, the latest CD from Catholic recording artist Sarah Hart is sure to be a winner.

With her upbeat lyrics, musicianship and a faith that shines through in every song, Sarah Hart manages to bridge the generation gap between mother and son in my home. Sarah and her family live and work in Nashville’s music industry and she writes and records between her primary vocations as wife and mother.

Sarah Hart shared the following on this latest CD and her take on
Catholic music and her faith:

Q: Sarah Hart, Catholic musician and mom of two, congratulations on the recent release of your new CD, Into These Rooms and thanks for your participation in this Catholic Music Spotlight interview. Could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

A: Thanks! And thanks for having me here. Well, I grew up in Lancaster, Ohio (central Ohio). I went to Catholic schools grades 1-12, and graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in Music Theory & Composition (and still can't believe I made it out alive, let alone with a degree!). I've been married for eleven years to my awesome husband, Kevin, and I have two beautiful (yeah, I'm biased) daughters who are two and four. We live in Nashville, TN. My husband works in the music industry as well. When I'm not writing, or traveling, or being mommy, or cooking, or cleaning something or someone (which doesn't leave much time, huh?), I'm a closet artist and poet wannabe.

Q: Sarah, as a Catholic musician, how has your faith journey impacted upon your creative process and your music?

A: Faith can not help but impact every part of life. If we are people of faith, I really believe that it shows...as a musician, I guess that fact that I am always on this "seekers journey", if you will, just makes itself evident. I'm honestly never trying to push my faith in my music, or judge how I think others should see things; rather, I'm choosing to write what I know, from my own perspective in life (which includes my faith!)...and somehow my journey is universal. Others can see my walk in their own, too, I think, and vice versa. That's part of what makes being a writer so cool...you think you're being so finite, writing and singing about your own little universe; when in actuality, you are affirming
others who are moving parallel. (sorry, I just got through watching a Nova special about "String Theory"...getting in over my head!)

Q: Into These Rooms/ features thirteen original compositions, each a work of art in its own right. As a songwriter, how do you translate emotion and spirit into song? Where do your ideas come from and how do you capture them in lyrics?

A: You know, ideas are a funny thing. They just come when they want to, and usually for me they happen at such random times...driving, reading, changing a diaper, playing "Hi-Ho-Cherry-O" for the fortieth time...sometimes even in my sleep. I just can never tell. I try to be very proactive about writing ideas down the minute they happen; if I don't, I can pretty much guarantee that they'll be gone. Mommydom will do that for you...help you forget a LOT! :) As for capturing them in lyric...that's a bit trickier. Let me just say this; I usually spend time on a lyric. I almost always read over and over and over it before I am satisfied. I've even been known to change a word or two in the midst of recording vocals. So I guess my heart just knows when it is "right". And, I've been doing this writing thing for a while...there truly is no substitute for lots of practice.

Q: I was touched by many of the songs on Into These Rooms, but as a mom, "For a Little While" is one of my favorites. Could you tell us a bit about this song? Do you have a favorite song on the disk, or one that you particularly enjoy singing?

A: Yes, this song is pretty special to me, too. I came home one night after a long day in the studio, when I was making "Live It". I got home just in time for my mom, who was visiting, to hand me the already warmed bottle for Evie (my youngest, who was about eight months at the time). I took her into the nursery, sat in the rocker with her, and gave her the bottle while I sang to her. As she was falling asleep in my arms, my heart felt so heavy...all I could think was "I can't believe I missed a whole day, a WHOLE DAY, with my little baby". It broke my heart...and I just started writing the lullaby, right there, with her in my arms. I finished it over the next two days. I remember sobbing as I typed up the last verse lyric on my computer, and then again when I was trying to sing it. It was awful! (But hey, if you can't make 'em cry, you're doing something wrong...). I also really love "My Evening Prayer", which I wrote for my older daughter, Addie. She is such a restless little spirit...the whole song is perfectly suited for her. Actually, I'm very happy with the way the whole project came out. Not sure if, from an artist standpoint, that's a good or a bad thing!

Q: How do you balance the roles of mother and musician?

A: I pray. A lot. And then I pray some more. It's certainly not easy, but fortunately I had the world's greatest mother, so I know what I'm supposed to do! And I have a really terrific support system, too, in my husband. He is so good about watching the girls while I am away. Although reactions from other moms are hysterical..."you mean he watches the kids? For a whole weekend? All by HIMSELF?” I usually say "well, yes. You know, he IS responsible for half of this!". I understand that it's not easy for women to "trust" their hubbies with the kids (I'm no exception!). I remember a friend of mine saying once, "It took me a long time to figure out that he wasn't doing it wrong, just doing it differently". It's so true!

OK, but about that balancing thing, I just pray. Before I had my first baby, a friend of mine taught me how to juggle (literally). That was a good precursor for working motherhood. I also take my fair share of bubble baths.

Q: Could you please tell us a bit about Mercy Corps, and your involvement with their work?

A: They are phenomenal. They do all the things that I so want to do in my life. At this point I can represent them and give money, but I hope and pray that the time is coming when I can actually do some mission work with them myself.

They have a passion for people, both home and abroad, who are in the direst of situations. They work to provide people with the basics, from clean water to food to shelter to healthcare. They have been a force in assisting victims in Southeast Asia following the Tsunami, and the refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan, where there is a humanitarian disaster of unfathomable proportions happening.

It is amazing how far an American dollar goes in most of the third world countries. Mercy Corps has one of the highest dollar-to-donation rates, with 91% going straight to those in need and only 9% to the company for overhead. For those of you who know how charitable organization finances work, you know that's an astounding number. It is so good to be on their team...I want the world to know about them, and the great things they do. By the way, the web address is http://www.mercycorps.org. If you've been seeking for a charity to become committed to...this is it!

Q: I've read that your busy schedule includes singing for World Youth Day 2005 in Germany. Wow! How do you prepare for singing before large groups, and for a life experience such as this? Do you have any previous concerts that really stand out for you?

A: You know, they all stand out in their own way. I am just so grateful to God that I get to sing...I don't care where! (I've been known to sing the Barney theme song at rest areas, and just yesterday sang the long version of "Free", from Barbie's Princess and the Pauper, with Addie while strolling through Target). I have to say, the bigger audiences are much easier than the small ones. You can shout your message, sing your songs, and thousands will cheer! (though they may be cheering the fact that a moon-sized beach ball just bounced overhead..) With smaller audiences, things get more intimate, and you have to be much more honest, much more vulnerable. But if you ask me which I prefer, I'd say that small concert crowd...I love the vulnerability thing. It lets people see the real you, with all of your warts. That's a good, important, humbling thing.

Q: Who are some of your favorite Catholic musicians? What hopes do you
hold out for the future of the Catholic music industry?


A: I LOVE the Innocence Mission. I think their integrity and honesty as musicians is amazing...they have held to who they are. It's a rare thing in this crazy industry. Of course, my fellow Spirit and Song folks I have to applaud, because they all have something AMAZING going on (see www.spiritandsong.com to find out what I mean!). I also think Danielle Rose is such a fine musician and writer, with some very important things to say. And, as far as the Catholic contemporary music scene goes, we are headed upward....definitely. I pray all the time that the Church and her people will once again support her musicians, artists, writers, as she once did so graciously. (we're talking Michelangelo’s time here!...) It's starting to happen. And, uh, artists like to eat. :)

Can I just say, though, that there are so many amazing musicians out there! (Catholic or not...) When I am listening to music, I can't judge who's behind it, or what their own values are...rather, I make a real effort to use listening as an opportunity to look into my own heart, to find out how I interpret other people's art, and what that means for my own walk. It's taken me a while to get there. But listening and searching for what's true (for me!) has become so much easier since I decided to start listening that way.

Q: Sarah, congratulations again for the success of this new CD. Are you working on any future projects you’d like to share with us?

A: Yes...I think I am going to do a Christmas record this year, and I am in talks about it with someone in particular....if it comes to fruition, it will be VERY exciting. VERY! And very cool. I'll keep you posted...(sorry, can't say more than that)

Q: A huge thanks to Sarah Hart, Catholic singer and songwriter, for your participation in this Catholic Music Spotlight. Are there any closing thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

A: Absolutely! Love God. Be good mommies. Ask God for help. Pray for your children. Pray for your children's daddies. Pray for other families. Yes, you will make it to 18 (and 21, and 27, and 35.....). Changing diapers, answering toddler questions, cleaning up after bath time, helping with homework and hugging teenagers are prayers. Get out of the house once in a while. Jesus loves you.

Visit Sarah Hart at http://www.sarahhartmusic.com and purchase her at http://www.catholicmusicnetwork.com/cmn_cd_detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=50539&REFERER=183

Lisa M. Hendey is webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com, a wife and mother of two and a Catholic music fan and supporter.


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