Catholic Music Spotlight – Lisa Howard

howard_lisa_babyI am very happy to share with our readers my recent conversation with Catholic recording artist and mom Lisa Howard.  Lisa’s CD, Whispers of My Spirit, is absolutely beautiful and can be ordered through her website.

Please briefly introduce yourself and your family.

My name is Lisa Howard and I am 32 years old. I have been married to my Husband, Adam for 5 and a half years and we have 3 children named Matilda who is 3 and a half years, Tristan who is 2 and a half years, and baby Quinlann who is now 12 months old.

I am a full time Mother and work from home part time, teaching singing to people of all ages.

Please share about your musical background- is this your first CD? What led you into the music field and enabled you to produce this lovely CD?

I have been classically trained as a Soprano since the age of 14and continue to have the occasional lesson for a “tune up”.  I completed my Associate Diploma of Music at the Australian Institute of Music and continued to perform in various shows for other musicians and directors (during my studies) as well as my own shows and solo work in Perth, Sydney and Overseas in London.

I now sing in my local parish as well as impromptu performances about town or for the promotion of the CD. My most recent and major performance was singing at the World Youth Day Festival at Darling Harbour in Sydney last year.

Whispers of My Spirit is my debut album.  I was led into the music field by my passion and the need to sing.

First of all I wanted to pursue a career in Musical Theatre, however, I was never content and didn’t really believe in what I was doing. It lacked my focus and vocal purpose……I just didn’t seem to fit in.

It wasn’t until I personally experienced the Love of God in my life after going back to the church, that I realised how much I desired to sing for God on all levels of my being.

When I began to sing in Church, people felt closer to God and became emotionally charged. It was through this, and my own faith walk, that I wanted to help people and give so much more than just singing at a Sunday Mass. I wanted to be instrumental in God’s healing Love through my singing and music.

I prayed, fasted and discerned about it a lot more than “usual”.  I had a desire and yearning to make a healing CD. I didn’t know when? or how? But I knew I would do it. It was through being open to God’s will and I would bump into musicians,  people in the industry, and  people from reputable music institutes.  They were able to help me, and could hear what I wanted to do.

The prospect of pursuing this project further on both sides was becoming evident. They were excited creatively, having not worked on a project similar to mine.  I may add that this discernment period became at times very frustrating due to many set backs along the way but the desire to continue was still there.

howard_lisaCan you tell us a bit about the process of selecting the songs for the CD and the actual recording process?

The selection of the 4 copyright songs completed the ‘healing’ theme for the CD and having sung them before they held a special place in my heart.

The 4 copyright songs on the CD were also fitting for the other 6 originals that were my own prayers, and they each flowed on from the other working towards ministry.

I wanted to make the CD a healing/prayerful journey opening up with ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and ending it lightly with God’s blessing and reassurance, hence the last song being ‘The Lord Bless You and keep You’.

In regards to the recording process I had 2 solid hours every Saturday over a 10 week period, to work with an arranger and figure out musically how the songs were to be structured and the overall  musical theme and tune of the song.  We would quickly record them with the piano backing and then pass them through to another arranger/composer to complete the final orchestrations and have all the songs completed, edited ready for the real and final recording.

Being 7 and a half months pregnant for the final recording, time was of the essence due to the restrictions I had with breathing and the expectation of  solid vocal quality within the songs.  I worked one full solid day from 10am -5pm over a 3 and a half week period.

To cut down on major costs in regards to studio hiring and labour, the production manager maintained a state of the art home studio set up with hi-tech equipment and modern music programmes that had come about from the U.S.  This programme was very effective in helping me achieve the overall sound and feeling of the CD.

The music is predominantly piano and strings. The songs had been pre-recorded with the pianist and arranger making changes to suit the style and theme of the CD. This was also done in their own time, and we would maintain contact via the web. The backing music for the songs on the CD had previously been pre recorded and were ready to be used purely for the vocal recording.

In this instance, it reduced the amount of ‘recording live’ sessions, and the necessity of all the musicians together at one time, which was incredibly impossible due to their own work demands elsewhere.

As a busy wife and mum, how do you find the time for your music? How does being a mum impact upon your creative process?

My time for my music can range however, when I am doing monotonous chores like the dishes, I feel and hear God’s presence of music and will quickly jot down the words or tune.

During the children’s sleep time I try and journal  or just sit and contemplate. Praying the Rosary (sometimes not finished) helps me unwind as well.

I have been extremely blessed with a supportive husband who allows me to achieve and if it’s viable, he can take care of the children for a couple of hours on a week-end or week night.  Unity and compromise have won, however, this stage of our relationship can sometimes take little longer than others!

In the long run it means that we are both happy and supportive of each other, which works (prayer helps too).

Being a mum, I think makes me so much more creative than any other time for the reason, that every emotion and feeling within myself is challenged and discovered, it creates an opportunity to express that into song.

You experience love on so many levels because of the love you have for your children and this is a reflection of God’s love for us.  Love is always a core catalyst to express something creative and beautiful if it’s for someone or something.

Having 3 young dependant children I am very limited to my spare time that when I have an opportunity, I maximise it wisely and push that little bit further than what I could the day before. This keeps me focused on quality.

I may add that my continued pregnancies within this period made me more determined to finish what I started.

On a more serious level, the birth of my first baby Daughter was extremely traumatic and our lives were in God’s hands. I was tested severely in trusting God, my faith and how he allows situations to happen that aren’t joyful, but will one day fit a much greater and bigger picture in his plan for us.

It was through this experience I embraced Motherhood so soundly. I retreated more within myself to search and pray on a deeper level and the completion of my songs for the CD came about.  I had once again experienced God, and his healing Love for me on a deeper level than previously before.

It took a while to make the decision of “yes” I am going to physically make a CD and the time is nigh, because I was struggling with the fact that I had this most precious, gorgeous and healthy baby girl and I was loving Motherhood but I still yearned to sing and keep focused on my dream.

I felt guilty due to the fact I had achieved something so incredibly wonderful and I should just be content with that.

I experienced an inner struggle of thinking is this me and my human level of selfishness? Or is it really God’s will? as the desire consistently consumed my thoughts and who I was as a Mother and myself, Lisa Howard.

I have always been passionate about being a Mother and being able to maintain my singing alongside fulfilling my dreams and desires, particularly if they were from God. I kept asking in prayer that “surely with the grace and being Gods will it’s possible to combine both.”

I knew there was only one way to find out and that was to step out in faith and make the first move in getting started.

In a nut shell my introduction into Motherhood was raw and real, but through this initial phase, it catapulted me into making a healing CD with the completed written material content for my songs.

How has your faith journey influenced your work as a musician?

When I decided to come back to my faith, I experienced Gods love in an overwhelming way that my whole self and direction in life changed.

My Mum having been a witness to me during this moment, also had a deeper conversion and healing.  I realised in heart, mind, body and spirit that God had created me for his purpose and I was excited to find out.

My original plan didn’t work out, so I was open to letting go of everything and just wait on God seeing that he gave me life in the first place and I was prepared to give it back to him.

Through this year of transition and growth God took me on my own journey of healing and forgiveness of my past (prior to my daughter’s birth scenario) that I gained an understanding as to why I had made many mistakes and choices.

Over time I didn’t realise I had morphed myself into somebody I wasn’t. I was actually running away from the real me, who was actually a broken, vulnerable person and had been for a very long time. The career and life I was chasing was a bandaid I kept replacing.

It took grace to find this out and have a deeper understanding to the poignant questions in life.

In this particular year I continued to journal my experiences, and there a pattern emerged of prayers that were the actual beginning material for my songs on the CD.

I felt that one day I wanted to share Gods healing Love with so many. And I didn’t want the songs to be ‘fluffy’ , As Gods true joy is experienced in great suffering and we can truly appreciate a blessing when it comes.

I wanted the songs to portray the effect of our humanity with God, and the realness of our relationship with him.

Circumstances in life beyond our control can really hurt sometimes, but  become pivotal in changing our whole being and direct us to do something good, give purpose and most of all give God the Glory.

In embracing the cross I found who I was, what I was running from and what I needed to do.

I couldn’t keep the Miraculous Lord to myself , and I have never believed in something so much, that I couldn’t not share it.

The CD had become a desire by then, however the birth of my first daughter was the conclusive point in which I made the commitment to make the CD really happen.

What has been really refreshing of late is hearing how some of the words in the songs have really touched people deeply. What I love most is that in my moments of hardship and pain, God has used this to annoint somone else and the suffering isn’t in vain. It actually has power to turn someones heart around ……….back to God.

Who are some of your favourite musicians and musical influences?

I would have to say that I have a fair list of names. They are predominantly known for their singing. They are:

Enya , Sarah Brightman, Lisa Gerrard , Cecilia, The Secret Garden and Marina Prior.

I fell in love with the music from The Passion of the Christ, and Lord of the Rings.

How can readers learn more about your music or order your CD?

Whispers of my Spirit is my debut album. You can order it on line on my website www.lisahoward.com.au. It’s $20 AUS plus postage and handling. I usually work on a cheque or wire transfer for purchase.  Otherwise it is stocked in the Catholic bookshop Shop here in Perth, W.A.  I am thinking that my website is more convenient and a better way to purchase.  You can actually view and listen to the songs on my website.

The website is updated with information from time to time and I am currently working on an information page, as well as material towards further promotion and another CD.

Are there any additional comments you’d like to share with our readers?

I am most grateful for your support.  Motherhood is by far the highest and best vocation God calls us to and what more of a role model could we have than ‘Our Lady’ . I must say that a lot of her intercession has kept me grounded and still continues to do so today.  Your children don’t always do as they are asked and God can minister his healing Love to us in the best of times !!

God Bless You greatly.

For more information on the music of Lisa Howard visit her website at http://www.lisahoward.com.au/

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