Angelina Davis is no typical sixteen year old Catholic high school student. While most of her peers have been concerned with learning to drive and hanging out with friends, Angelina spent the past fifteen months making news on the ever growing Catholic m
by Lisa M. Hendey | Source:
Catholic Music Spotlight Interview with Angelina
This interview originally ran in the National Catholic Register and is reprinted with their permission.
Angelina Davis is no typical sixteen year old Catholic high school student. While most of her peers have been concerned with learning to drive and hanging out with friends, Angelina spent the past fifteen months making news on the ever growing Catholic music scene. Shortly after earning a 2003 Unity award for "Spoken Word Album of the Year", ("The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
") Angelina was the sole American invited to sing at the Vatican blessing of the outdoor Nativity at St. Peter's Square on Christmas Eve.
This year, Angelina has been even busier, releasing three new music projects:
"Songs of the Faithful,"
released in February, is a set of inspirational songs about faith and the faithful, such as St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Faustina, St. Pio, St. Patrick and a special tribute to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
"The Child Within,"
released in June, is a special collection of inspirational songs and lullabies to bring out the childlike spirit in all of us. These songs, Angelina says, "encompass the innocence of childlike spirituality, love of God and life and creative imagination."
to be released Oct. 15, represents a first in the Catholic music industry: the use of music with video as a means of evangelization. Angelina traveled to Ireland, Italy and Poland to visit some places important to her faith, "Faithful" puts the pilgrimage to song. It includes 11 music videos that will encourage and inspire others to pursue a deeper life of prayer and bring us closer to Christ. It has been nominated for a 2004 Unity Award in the Music Video/DVD Category.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Angelina, a boarding student at the Mississippi School of the Arts, on a recent weekend visit to her home in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Q: Angelina, life has been pretty exciting for you in the past year! Thanks for taking time to update our readers about your recent and exciting news. Could you start off by sharing just a little bit with our readers about how your singing career began?
Well - I have been singing since I could talk. Professionally - since I was nine or so. It all started with a simple request from my grandfather, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer at the time. At his request I began to learn the "Ave Maria." That was a very big request for a nine year-old but I sang it for him six months later on Christmas night. He died two days later and that was the last song he heard. A month later, my mom and I decided to start work on the recording of the Rosary.
Q: First off, congratulations on your 2003 Unity Award on your 2004 nomination in the Music Video/DVD category! I know that you were selected to sing at St. Peter's Square for Christmas Eve last year. Please tell us about that experience.
I had been to the Vatican earlier in the year, so I was familiar with the area. The square is beautiful. The nativity was set up larger than life, and the Pope gave the blessing from his window right before I sang "Do You Hear What I Hear?" It was so cold outside I had to wear my jeans underneath my dress. The most important part was going to midnight mass in the Basilica - it was so awesome. My whole family was teary eyed when the Pope passed by at the processional. It was a beautiful and blessed time to spend with my family. My mother was born on Christmas day, so that was extra special too!
Q: It's been a busy year for you with the release of two new CDs, "The Child Within" and "Songs of the Faithful." What inspired these projects? What are some of your favorite songs to sing from these two CDs?
"Songs of the Faithful" are the songs from the DVD "The Faithful" - all coinciding with Saints and encouragement for us to live as examples like the saints did and to follow God's will. "The Child Within" is a 'children of all ages' CD. It has a few children's songs on it -- but anyone can listen to it. We came up with the idea after I had performed at a Catholic family conference in Kansas, I did a few children's songs and was later asked "what CD the songs were on," and I responded with 'well none yet!' So, it seemed like a great idea to come out with a "children's" CD.
My favorite songs to sing off "The Child Within" are - Baby Mine and Breathe. The "Songs of the Faithful" has my favorite Rich Mullins song of all time: "Jesus".
Q: Your evangelistic music video, "The Faithful" is due to be released October 15. Tell us about the process of putting the video together. What were some of the highlights of your travels? What are your hopes for this project?
The video/DVD was so difficult to make. I knew it would take work -- but it took a LOT of work. Twelve to 14 hour days, I had to walk up so many stairs -- and sit in one position for so long -- and retake me singing the choruses of the songs over and over. It started to become redundant -- but the finished product really shows how worth it was to do all that work. It's a beautiful piece that I can be very proud of. I told my mom that I really feel I grew so much spiritually during all this filming. I hope this project reaches more people than I can imagine -- this video will take people on a mini pilgrimage through prayer and song. They are going to see the places where great people like St. Faustina, St. Francis and my favorite Saint Pio (who will be my confirmation Saint) lived out their humble lives. There are many videos and shows that already do this but not like what we have done. I think children and adults will view this and come out with a deeper sense of their faith and hopefully want change something in their lives.
Q: With your incredible talent and all that you've accomplished in your career at such a young age, it's easy for "grown ups" like me to forget that you're only 16 years old! I've heard that you're now studying full time at the Mississippi School of the Arts. How has the transition to a new school been for you? Is there any challenge as a teenager to remaining committed to your Catholic faith and religious practices?
I love my new school -- everyone there is so committed to their discipline -- whether it be Visual [painting], Drama, or Vocal. I love how everyone is accepted in that type of nurturing atmosphere. I think that's why it's actually very easy to keep my faith alive -- because no one looks down on me for being Catholic in a very Protestant area. It's a very open-minded school where everyone is accepted, and not shunned in anyway. Sometimes it can be difficult in a Public school system in the South. I did go to Catholic school up until seventh grade -- but I did needed the music program for college. I found that changing to public school actually made me more in-depth in my faith -- because instead of being told what to learn I had to ask my own questions -- and learn what people around me were asking about Catholics. My mom says I am a little more independent than most teens -- but changing around has definitely helped me. My mom also sends me interesting facts and articles on our faith through e-mail which helps and I do research on my own on the internet. Now at the Mississippi School of the Arts I am in a college atmosphere to give me a taste of what college is going to be like. It is a very small scale version of college -- but I truly love it.
Q: Can you share with us some additional information about your upcoming project "The Littlest Gargoyle?" Is there anything else on the horizon that you'd like to share with our readers?
Angelina: The Littlest Gargoyle
was actually a play I performed at the age of ten. Earlier this year the playwright [a local writer by the name Tonya Hayes] mentioned turning the play into a story book. My mom remembered about how many times our family, listened to books on tape or CD on road trips. The two came together and the book was written. It's a great story about a young nun in medieval France wanting to help Notre Dame during the process of it being built. Her heart is surrounded with doubt and fear of the unknown. She is led on a journey that finds her in some very difficult situations but through perseverance and her deep love for God and Blessed Mother she begins a deeper understanding of His plan for her. This story will be a wonderful tool to introduce the idea of religious vocations. As for new projects, my mom and I are flirting around with ideas at the moment -- we don't know what type of CD we would like to do just yet. My main focus would be to finish "The Littlest Gargoyle
” book on tape and be busy promoting the DVD, "The Faithful" which is a very new product in the Catholic world. I am extremely happy to be a part of all this and just want to continue to share my gift with people. God bless!
For more information about Angelina and her Catholic music career, visit her web site at www.angelinasings.com
Lisa M. Hendey is webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com, a wife and mother of two and a Catholic music fan and supporter.