Summer 2002 from CTV Web:

Catholic musicians combine rock, religion

Sandra Dimitrakopoulos, CTV News Staff

 

While most Catholics haven't heard theology expressed in a rock n' roll song, a growing number of Catholic musicians are using rock music to express their feelings about faith – and their fan base is slowly rising.

Nick Alexander is among the many musicians who performed for the WYD youth festival in Toronto.

Alexander, who takes modern rock songs and parodies them, considers himself to be the "Weird Al" Yankovic of the Catholic music scene. One of his most popular parodies is Should I Stand or Should I Kneel, based on The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go.

While this Catholic rock musician from Connecticut has recorded two CDs, he admits this type of music is unfamiliar to many Catholics, who are used to listening to Christian contemporary music.

"Most Catholics (at WYD) are vaguely familiar with the Catholic music scene, but I would say most Catholics here are familiar with the Christian contemporary music scene," Alexander said.

"Most people don't even know Catholic contemporary music exists."

James O'Neill, the lead singer of the Catholic rock band Sheep, admits the Catholic rock music scene is just starting to open up.

"It's in the beginning stages," he said. "We're just so used to getting our music from the Christian scene in general."

The bleach-blonde haired O'Neill, who calls his bands' type of music "Alternative Praise", said there are lots of good Catholic rock musicians out there who are trying to appeal to young people with positive messages.

"If we're not playing what they're listening to on the radio, they're not going to listen to it, they're not going to have anything to do with it," he said.

But it could be difficult getting fans of the Christian music scene to tune into Catholic rock music. Alexander said it comes down to a "cat and dog thing".

"Catholics are Christians but a lot of Christians don't think they're Catholics so there's a lot of marginalization," he said.

However, the few pilgrims who turned out for Sheep's set at the youth festival on Friday were quick converts. They hadn't heard of the band before they started playing, but just minutes after Sheep's first song, they said they were now fans.

"We are fans of Sheep," yelled out Sheila O'Toole, 20, from Cleveland, Ohio, and her 23-year-old sister Katie.

The O'Tooles, however, are familiar with the Catholic rock music scene and enjoy that type of music, among many others.

"I think it's just like rock and roll … same beat, same purpose as rock, it just carries a different message," Katie said.

"It's not music you hear on the radio a lot, but when you're at the concerts and shows it's great, it's inspiring and everyone's really into it," Sheila said.

While both Alexander and Sheep acquired some new fans, large crowds were also drawn to the musical style of singing and clapping offered by a group from Michigan called Youth to Youth Catholic.

The group of more than 25 performers clapped to songs, played out short skits – and drew a large ring of participants, including a group of Catholic Torontonians.

"Rock isn't the main type of music, this is more modern music than the rock," according to Nicole Sinclair, 17, of Toronto. "The minority of people listen to that; this really caters to the majority."

"The majority of young people would listen to this type of music," said Lisa, D'Ugo, also of Toronto.

While Catholic rock music may not be mainstream yet, Alexander isn't giving up.

"All we ask is for a stage, all we ask is for people to listen and judge for themselves, I think they'll be presently surprised," he said.

While most Catholics haven't heard theology expressed in a rock n' roll song, a growing number of Catholic musicians are using rock music to express their feelings about faith – and their fan base is slowly rising.

 

 

 

 

Used from CTV Web; Web Page Copyright James O’Neill 2006 all rights reserved World wide 

 

 

 

 

Sheep on CHNU Vancouver (formerly NOW TV Channel Ten)

"If we're not playing what they're listening to on the radio, they're not going to listen to it,

they're not going to have anything to do with it," - James O’Neill 2002

 

 

 

James with Sheep at World Youth Day 2002

 

 

The First incarnation or Sheep “WT Band” 2000

 

 

 

 

More SHEEP @ World Youth day 2002

 

 

 

 

 

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