Nov 15, 2014 / 15:46 pm
An up-and-coming Catholic musician in Michigan aims to expose listeners to God in the same way she did during her school years – through beauty found in "truly good" forms of art.
"My desire with this music and this album is to reach anybody, anywhere and hopefully open their hearts to the reality that transfiguration and transformation is real," singer/songwriter Alanna-Marie Boudreau told CNA recently.
Growing up, she said that her parents made it a point to expose their children to "the transcendental truth, goodness and beauty" through beautiful literature and art. Since they believed that was not available in the upstate New York schools where they lived, her mother decided to homeschool them.
Learning from a Catholic curriculum, Boudreau says excellent books and beautiful music were a regular part of her education.
"It was a very natural part of the fabric of our life and it was interwoven with a really sacramental understanding of life and of family," she said.
"The faith, it always fit like a hand in the glove with our upbringing and with our education." That integration of faith, beauty and truth is something the 23-year old woman says she hopes permeates her music, especially in her new, full-length album, "Hints and Guesses" – a follow-up to her 2012 EP, "Hands in the Land."
"And anybody – everybody – is affected by beauty, no matter what their life experience is, where they're from, or what they've done, there's something about beauty that bypasses those preconceived ideas and it just sets the heart in a very good position to hear God."
But Boudreau doesn't label her work as "Christian music" – not because it doesn't deal with the faith, but because of the inclination of some to automatically be turned off by such a label or assume that it will sound a certain way without listening to it.
"I'm a Catholic woman and that affects the way that I write and the way that I understand the world, but I have noticed there's a tendency when people hear about a label like 'Christian' they misunderstand it, so they feel threatened by it and they close their hearts to it."
However, when music or other art forms simply expose the listener to beauty instead of assigning labels, that's when conversion of the heart can begin, she explained.
"God, in His wisdom, he knows that beauty is a way of bypassing the intellect and softening the heart to make it receptive."
That's something she hopes "Hints and Guesses" will do – open listeners' hearts up in a way that allows them to be more receptive to authentic beauty, and in turn, God.
"I hope that the album would act kind of as a question mark for them – that it would bring up certain things or inspire certain movements that would make them examine things a little more deeply – to have a more examined life and to ask those big questions, whether it has to do with relationships, inner healing, if it has to do with seeking God more ardently, or if it has to do with just being more receptive to life in general."
One of the songs on the album, "The Weight of Glory," is based on a sermon of the same name by C.S. Lewis and deals with asking questions and developing a thirst for God.
Another track, "Solitudes," focuses on how human relationships can never fully satisfy us, while at the same time revealing something eternal.
"There will always be a part of us that is incommunicable to another person and that's what sets us above creation and it's what makes us like God, in a sense. And yet, there's that tension: we are made for community," Boudreau explained.
Her new album – which was completed after a successful Kickstarter campaign back in March – was received enthusiastically and reached number 22 on the top 100 "Singer/Songwriter" category on iTunes the day after it was released in September.
Boudreau toured for a month over the summer and is now playing shows intermittently, but says right now is a "waiting period" while she discerns her next move.
She encouraged fans to connect with her online, either through her Facebook or YouTube pages, or her website, alannamariemusic.com. Her music is available through iTunes or lovegoodmusic.com.