Monday, June 29, 2009

High Hopes and Heartbreaks

Season 7 American Idol finalist Brooke White has released her new single "Radio Radio" on iTunes. Her album "High Hopes and Heartbreaks" (featuring her first single "Hold Up My Heart") is coming out on July 21.

Brooke has a distinctive tone and character to her voice along with an emotional core that allows her to convey joy, hope, longing or loss in her well-crafted, engagingly delivered songs. Though she's a new artist, Brooke's got a classic singer/songwriter vibe that struck a chord with Idol's viewers and should do the same with new listeners. But to attract new listeners, word about the music has to get out. So check it out yourself by clicking through the widget below. Then, as a certain late night host used to say, "Wake the kids and phone the neighbors" and tell them to buy "High Hopes and Heartbreaks."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ca C'est Bon!

The Louisiana-roots band known as L’Angelus is made up of siblings Johnny, Stephen, Katie and Paige Rees. They want their music to bring families together because that’s exactly what it did for them. Paige Rees joined me recently on “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast here) to talk about the central role her family’s faith plays in their lives and music. Here’s an excerpt:

TR: Paige, L’Angelus is made up of you, your sister Katie, and your brothers Johnny and Stephen. By modern standards, that’s already a big family. But there are even more of you at home. How many kids are in your family?

Paige Rees: We are actually a group of ten kids altogether. Our Mom and Dad have been blessed with eight children. And two years ago, we were blessed with a foster brother and sister.

TR: Tell me about your parents taking in those foster children. How did it happen and why did they do it when they already had a significant number of mouths to feed and raise?

Paige Rees: My parents, about seven or eight years ago, became open to life as they grew deeper in their faith…Then we met this little family in New Orleans shortly after Katrina. Their mother was very young and she had four little ones herself. (She had) no family or support system and was suffering very much the effects of the storm. After meeting her and getting to know her over a few days, there was a lot of uncertainty but we just tried to trust in God and follow what He has shown us over and over in Scriptures and through the examples of the saints of how we are supposed to care for one another. So we’ve had this relationship with their mother for the past few years, and she just graduated from a medical assistant program. She actually came into the church this past Easter. The children were baptized and it was a really glorious day for everybody.

TR: Paige, your music career has become more successful through the years, and sometimes it would seem that the busier you would get, the more faith would be pushed to the side. But the exact opposite has happened with your family. Why do you think that is?

Paige Rees: We started out playing music when we were pretty young. Early on, our uncle who has had a career in the music business - he doesn’t necessarily practice any faith. But he did tell my Dad when we were still quite young, “If you’re going to be in this business, you better take those kids to church.” There are so many challenges to the faith that are presented in this business, in media in particular. So I think my Dad really took that advice to heart and we tried to stay really close to the sacraments and close to each other so that we would have that support system, that accountability. So I think it’s been a grace, not necessarily anything that we’ve done but our heavenly father protecting us and thankfully giving our father a lot of wisdom.

TR: Paige, I don’t know if you saw this in the newspaper late last year. There were some atheist bus ads in London that said, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Considering the fact that you’re Catholic and you perform this joy-filled music, does being a person of faith keep you from enjoying your life or does it make you enjoy it more?

Paige Rees: I think that because of our faith, because of knowing that we are children of a heavenly father who loves us – that gives our life meaning. I did see those bumper stickers (saying) “There’s no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” I think (the problem) is just the opposite. The problem is that people feel no purpose. There’s meaninglessness. You can’t enjoy anything if you don’t see a reason for it. You can only enjoy in the moment the pleasures that you’re experiencing. So I think the reality that there is a father in heaven who loves us, who wants to help us, and who wants us to be eternally happy with him in heaven – that is what gives everything meaning, it gives everything purpose, it gives suffering purpose, and it gives joy the ability to last instead of just being a pleasure that comes and goes.

TR: Another way you’re living out that faith is you’re working on an album of sacred songs with the family. Can you tell me about that?

Paige Rees: The CD’s that we’ve released so far have been more of the music that is Louisiana roots and stuff like that. So we’ve been thinking about doing a sacred album for a while now. You know, we play at Mass pretty often. We’ve come up with a collection of songs that we play a lot and we really love. So we’ve been thinking about doing an album for a while. Then through a meeting at a Catholic marketing network in New Jersey, Ignatius Press, they told us they were interested in carrying one if we ever did one…So we’ve got a lot of traditional songs on here that have been very inspiring to us.

(To listen to the full interview with Paige and here clips of L’Angelus songs, visit You can also check out a L'Angelus music video below:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Please Vote for "Christopher Closeup"

If you've ever listened to a podcast of "Christopher Closeup" and liked what you heard (or if you've ever read text excerpts from the interviews here and liked those), please consider voting for the show in the Catholic New Media Awards. We're under:

- Most Informative Podcast
- Most Spiritual Podcast
- People's Choice Podcast

The site is

Thank you.