To be an established and acclaimed artist by the age of 30 is more than most musicians can hope for. But for Audrey Assad, music is more than a career; it’s a means of evangelisation. And it’s the search for truth, not record sales, that drives her.
- The Catholic Herald
'Beauty is the last bastion of evangelisation in our culture, and part of that is because it is one of the only things people are idolising any more,' she says. 'It was Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II who really cemented in my mind that beauty was something worth pursuing, that it still has a place in people’s lives, and if we strive for it then we can turn them on to truth and goodness as well. Being the three great transcendentals, they’re all connected – they’re all qualities of God.'
The daughter of a Syrian Christian who left Damascus for the US when he was 18, and a Virginian mother, Assad was raised in a Plymouth Brethren household in New Jersey. She developed her talent for music in a liturgical tradition of 'robust and beautiful' hymns where a capella singing formed the backbone of worship. 'Singing was the only way songs would get done,' she explains. 'I didn’t hear of praise and worship music until I was in high school, but when I had I had already grown up in such a way that singing was essential.'
Music was never meant to become her life’s work, however.
'I wanted to get married at 18 and have 10 kids. That didn’t happen, and suddenly I was all "OK, what do I do with my life while I’m waiting for this?" So I started [writing songs] at 19, just playing and enjoying myself.'
But a burgeoning interest in worship music, coupled with the decision to convert to Catholicism in her early 20s, set a process of questioning and discernment in motion. 'I didn’t know what this meant for my job, I didn’t know if it meant I could still be involved in worship music. What do I do being on the charismatic side of things?'
This led her to where she is today: a highly regarded contemporary Christian artist with two albums under her belt and a third, Fortunate Fall, being released this month.
'It’s taken the last few years to get to where I am now, where I’ve built this ecumenical ministry of leading prayer in both Catholic and Protestant churches, allowing a discussion about Catholicism to be had on social networks, with fans, and with people I meet along the way,' she says.
'It was something that was gradual – I just knew God was calling me to use this gift, so I just started playing everywhere I could and one thing led to another.'