FACETS OF FAITH: Audrey Assad

Advocate staff photo by LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISH -- Audrey Assad performs at the Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Student Center at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 5. The concert was the second stop of a tour promoting her album 'Fortunate Fall,' a project she financed through Kickstarter.
Advocate staff photo by LEILA PITCHFORD-ENGLISH -- Audrey Assad performs at the Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Student Center at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 5. The concert was the second stop of a tour promoting her album 'Fortunate Fall,' a project she financed through Kickstarter.

By Leila Pitchford-English

lenglish@theadvocate.com

For most people, a fall is not a good thing.

But for singer-songwriter Audrey Assad, who decided to leave her record label to work as an independent artist, it is fortunate.

Assad, who performed in Lafayette last week, is on tour promoting her latest project, “Fortunate Fall,” which was financed by her supporters on Kickstarter.

“This new record, ‘Fortunate Fall,’ displays what I would say are my two sides, which are Catholic and charismatic,” she said.

The record’s curious name comes from her attention to the liturgy.

“Fortunate fall is an alternate translation of a phrase in the Easter vigil prayer ‘The Exsultet,’” she said. “That is the prayer the deacon or sometimes the priest sings, and it’s got the whole history of the church and Abraham and Isaac and all through the history of man.

“So there’s a phrase in there that says ‘Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, that gained for us so great and glorious a redeemer.’

“‘Fortunate fall’ is just an alternate translation of ‘happy fault,’” she said.

That idea led her to the idea from St. Augustine, “That God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to never permit evil to exist in the first place. And that’s the mystery of Christ becoming man and entering our world and that we even needed a savior and how beautiful that relationship is.”

Assad said the entire record is a meditation on that idea in general and specific themes.

Psalm 23 and the idea of God as our shepherd is one of those specific themes.

Assad said that as she wrote, one of the biggest themes that jumped out was the idea that Christ “is God, but he is humble. He humbles himself to not only take on the form of man, but to take on the role of shepherd, which to me almost feels like a baby sitter sometimes.

The mission

Assad said her mission in life is to “build bridges in the church ’cause I was raised Protestant. I’m now Catholic. I have a lot of experience in both worlds. There is nothing that fires me up more, in a good way, than having those conversations with people and seeking that understanding and building real bridges between the two.”

She adds that her music allows her to “have that conversation on a level that I might not be able to if I didn’t do what I do.

“And I do believe that when Jesus prayed for unity in John 17 it was not just an idea in his mind but in fact something we could actively work toward as the church as long as we are on this earth.”

She said her music is less about saying something specific than about providing a space to hold the conversations. “I do have that conversation with a lot of individuals. At my merch (merchandise) table, on my Facebook, Twitter. ... Ecumenism is a big part of why I do what I do.”

That conversation led to a very successful Kickstarter campaign.

Assad said she went with the crowd-sourcing site when she left her label because it would give “a chance to really connect with the people I have been giving music to for years. I wanted to know who those people are a little better. I wanted them to feel more connected to what my mission is and my vision.”

The project started on March 16 with a goal of $40,000. Assad listed all of the things that money was to pay for and said that was “actually a small number relatively. But it sounded like a lot, so I was really nervous.

“We did hit that goal, in 50 hours. ... I really thought it would take the whole 30 days to do. ... We ended up at $79,000, which enabled us to do a live record which is coming out later this year. We did more video content because of that extra.”

Assad said, “It is a really huge gift when someone trusts an artist enough to give someone the money for the record before they even know what it is gonna sound like or what it is gonna say.

“That support was and is a big honor for me, and I really felt like it confirmed in my mind that I am doing the right thing doing this independently. I have some amazing fans out there who are really wanting to be part of a community and a tribe and not just consume but actually really be a part of things that I believe in too. So that really really encouraged me, and I got a fresh shot of energy.”