The Fortunate Faith of Audrey Assad | Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report
The singer-songwriter discusses her new album, faith, conversion, and why she doesn't make “Christian music”
Audrey Assad (www.audreyassad.com) is a thirty-year-old singer, pianist, and songwriter who has steadily established herself in recent years as an exceptional musical artist with a gift for deeply spiritual lyrics and memorable melodies.
Assad was raised in a Protestant home in New Jersey, then moved with her family to Florida in her late teens where she began to study and learn more about Catholicism. She entered the Church in 2007. Her first album, The House You’re Building (2010), was recognized on Amazon.com as Christian Album of the Year and by iTunes as Christian Breakthrough Album of the Year. Her second album, Heart (2012), was critically acclaimed and reached #3 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart. The lyrics in those albums revealed the influence of St. Augustine, the Jesuit poet and priest Gerald Manley Hopkins, and the poet Francis Thompson.
Her new, self-produced album, Fortunate Fall, was released this past August.
Assad recently answered some questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about her music, her decision to become Catholic, the influence of Augustine on her writing, and why Catholic artists need to pursue beauty and truth, no matter the cost.
CWR: Your first two studio albums, The House You're Building and Heart contained many songs oriented toward worship, but your new album, Fortunate Fall, is focused entirely on music to be used in personal devotion and public worship. What inspired you to pursue making such an album? How do you envision your music being used in liturgy and in private prayer?
Assad: After making my first two albums (and after a few years in the music business) I found myself at a personal crossroads: I asked myself what, as a Catholic, I should be doing in the world—and how I should be making music. In that period of discernment I came to the conclusion that there is no room in my artist’s heart for making “Christian pop” — less still for making what has come to be known as “Contemporary Christian music.” In these phrases, the word “Christian” is a modifier, not a noun—essentially, it’s become a marketing term. I don’t believe that’s how the word should be used. So going forward, I don’t make “Christian music”, even when it’s intended for the Church. I make Church music, and that’s what Fortunate Fall is.
As you stated, the music on Fortunate Fall is intended for personal devotion and public worship. I envision it being incorporated into anything from prayer time in the car on the way to work to Adoration and even, in some cases, Mass -- based on the Church’s guidelines, we did our best to notate appropriate usages in the liner notes. Hopefully that’s helpful to those who pick up a physical copy!
CWR: The influence of St. Augustine is front and center, from the title of the album to the lyrics of many of the songs. When did you first discover Augustine and how has he affected you as a person and an artist?
Assad: I discovered St. Augustine as I was on my way into the Catholic Church—I was confirmed in 2007. In the two years of study I did before coming into the Church, St. Augustine was a steady and pulsing voice in my reading. Though he and C. S. Lewis are different, I think they share this similarity, and thus share a large amount of influence in my work: they both think like philosophers and write like poets. I can’t compare myself to either of them, but they inspire me in that way, and in that way I hope to be as like them as possible.
CWR: Three themes stand out upon repeated listens: the Incarnation, redemption, and abandonment to God's will. What are some of the key connections you see among the three? What other themes were central to the writing and making of the album?