Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Harmonium Project and Audrey Assad

I am a little late in posting this but I can't let it pass by without writing about it.

So first a little background on Steubenville.  Steubenville used to be a booming town.  And then steel mills and other industries were shut down and the city has since slipped from vibrant and wealthy to a depressed area.  There is alot of poverty-spiritually and materially. The school is on top of a hill (literally) and is often criticized for not truly reaching out to those in so much need in the city.  There are ministries but are there enough? (Another discussion for another day.)

From the Harmonium Project facebook page.
Enter The Harmonium Project. From their facebook page:
"The Harmonium Project is an up-and-coming music center located in the heart of downtown Steubenville. 

Our Mission: 
To restore and revitalize the now impoverished area of downtown Steubenville.

How? : 
By integrating the student body of Franciscan University with downtown Steubenville in the following ways:

1. By hosting weekly concerts, we aim to bring hundreds of students into the downtown area to have fun, hear great music, buy food (and otherwise spend money to stimulate local economy), and build relationships with their brothers and sisters in downtown Steubenville. In short, we aim to inspire the student body to treat the city of Steubenville as their home.

How will this help? By introducing this new “market” of students into the downtown area, we will inspire local business leaders to “open up shop,” to serve and profit from that same student body. This increased business activity will lead to the restoration and opening of closed buildings, increased job opportunities for local workers, and a thriving downtown culture.

2. By establishing an after-school music program to provide a safe, creative environment for children oppressed by poverty and the surrounding evils of crime, drug use, and violence.

How will this help? The Harmonium Project aims to elevate the culture of downtown Steubenville by giving her children free music lessons, instrument rentals, practice spaces, “jam sessions,” and performance times. This music program will be achieved by the volunteer efforts of Franciscan University students, who will provide children in need with affirming, virtuous relationships. The program will give children a means of creative expression and a place off the streets." 
It was started by 6 students, one of which is my household sister and two my household brothers.  Another man on the job is Marc Barnes, aka author of The Bad Catholic.  Audrey Assad reads his blog and found about this new ministry and wanted to help.

Excitement brewed in the air as the day of the concert came closer.  She performed music from her Fortunate Fall album at an outdoor venue, Fort Steuben, in the heart of downtown Steubenville. To say I was blown away is an understatement.  I liked Audrey Assad but she wasn't a favorite and I hadn't bought this new album yet.  That all changed after this concert.

First off, the fact that she did the concert because she wanted to help out this project and Steubenville is incredible.  Secondly, the album, the lyrics, the sound-blown away.  Like really you have to go check it out and really listen to the lyrics.  The title song, Fortunate Fall, the lyrics are from one of the prayers found in the Easter Vigil Mass. I Shall Not Want-based on the humility prayer.  Yeah good stuff.  The album is very Catholic and not afraid to be. She is an incredibly holy person and that was evident based on the feeling of the whole concert being a prayer.  She ended the concert with Matt Maher's Lord I Need You, with the students praising the Lord and her slipping away before she could receive any applause.  On top of all that the venue was stunning.  There she was playing this amazing album with the Steubenville lit up bridge in the background.

Photo by Matthew Seal from the Harmonium Project facebook

If you haven't bought her album yet-do it, you won't be disappointed.  And don't just take my word for, Marc is also quick to praise it in words more eloquent than mine. Still not convinced, check out Christina Mead's article on Life Teen (I am in nursing school with her sister!).  

I am going to go and continue to listen to one of my now favorite artist's stunning words of prayer.

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  1. She has always been one of my favorites and I am always listening to her music. Bummed I didn't make it out to the concert though :( Good recap!

  2. I love Audrey!! :) Sounds like it was an awesome concert and evening. The Project sounds really amazing, too!