A Cleveland native and one of nine children, Taylor Tripodi wants to use her voice to promote her Catholic faith and Christian beliefs.
The singer-songwriter recently released “Awakening,” a six-song album about which you can learn more at taylortripodi.com. In a recent interview with Angelus, the vibrant vocalist recounted how she came to create music that combines her love of country and soft rock melodies with soulful spiritual lyrics.
“I’ve always loved singing and playing music accompanied by lots of funky dance moves since I was a little girl,” Tripodi says. “I was singing all sorts of music – not always specifically Christian or Catholic music – but just music that spoke to my soul and the place I was in. I think it was after I started singing in church and writing music at the age of 11 that I realized just how inspiring music that communicates goodness truth and beauty can be, and that’s what moved me to begin writing and singing a lot of Christian music.”
Her family played a pivotal role in forming her faith, she adds.
“In many ways, I attribute the faith that I have today to them,” she says. “It’s because of their constant love and support and calling me on to holiness that I have been able to get through some of the biggest struggles and doubts that I have had, and really, we all have them. Each of (my family members) is so unique, and I’m really referring to my little siblings. They show me a different perspective of life and remind me what it really means to be a beloved child, small and dependent, on God.”
Like many Christian musicians today, she notes she was inspired by a combination of secular and sacred singers and artists.
“When I was little, Carrie Underwood and Shania Twain were my inspiration to sing,” she says. “I loved how powerful and exciting their voices were. I grew up on a lot of country and Christian music all mixed together. I remember really loving Kari Jobe in high school!”
Attending Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, the now 23-year-old singer started listening to Audrey Assad, one of the most popular Contemporary Christian artists in the past decade.
“Her lyrics have always found a way of penetrating the depths of my soul and leading me deeper into the mystery of my own brokenness and need for God,” Tripodi says. “Nowadays it’s really all sorts of sounds and a lot of my Catholic musician friends who deeply inspire me.”
Tripodi plays guitar and dabbles in piano, but notes her main instrument is her voice.
“That used to be a source of insecurity for me as I know there are so many wild talented individuals who can sing well and play just about any instrument,” she says. “But I have become so grateful for that singular gift of my voice over the years, especially having gone through a lot of pain and struggle in losing it for a while because of some vocal issues. I am just grateful that God has given me such a gift and I hope to always glorify Him with it.”
Like a lot of Catholic musicians, Tripodi says she finds artistic inspiration in the sacraments and the church’s rich devotional life.
“So much of my music has been written in front of the Blessed Sacrament in His presence, and you’d better believe that His presence is influential in so many lyrics.” she says, calling her tune “Stand in Awe” particularly Catholic in tone.
“I was reflecting on the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, she says. “So often we as Catholics feel the need to say ritual prayers every time we come before the Lord -- in this song, it talks about our need to just be in His presence and wonder at His beauty -- no words could ever come close to accurately describing the reality of Heaven touching Earth in this sacrament.”
She also notes that Scripture has inspired some of her tunes, like “You Heard My Name.”
“In darkness/You walked to the garden/Knowing the path/Would not lead you back/Safely Again,” she sings over a gentle piano flavored progression.
“This song was inspired by (Jesus’) passion in the garden of Gethsemane and this is one of those songs that I really didn’t need to think much about when writing the words -- the words were really given to me. It only took me about 20 minutes to write, thanks be to God!”
The song combines images of Christ’s passion with Tripodi’s musing over how he must have thought of souls like her, the salvation of which was dependent on Jesus rejecting the temptation to flee his painful death. In a refreshing departure from the sometimes bland or generic lyrics that mark Contemporary Christian songs, Tripodi employs fresh, original imagery to draw the listener into how Jesus must have felt at the moment.
“Beaten/Endlessly beaten/The crown on your head/Like a king to be wed/To a bride who has fled,” she sings, drawing the listener in to see Jesus as a man filled with love abandoned by his most trusted companions at his most dire moment.
Learning to let go
As part of her online ministry, Tripodi promotes the “Surrender Novena,” written by the late Father Dolindo Ruotolo, an Italian priest and mystic. Over nine days of short prayers, those who practice the novena are called into surrendering their woes and cares to the Lord, something Tripodi says she has struggled to do.
“I have many control issues, and it’s really hard for me to let go sometimes,” she says. “This novena was something I found at a time where I really needed to let go of things I was desperately trying to hold onto -- and I really believe that I am a happier, healthier person when I let go of anxiety and fears that I hold inside.”
As 2020 beckons, Tripodi is set to sing at a number of events, including the March for Life Adoration and Concert at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, Md., from 5-10 p.m. Thursday, January 23. Other highlights of the upcoming year, include leading music with Jeff Cavins and Father Mike Schmitz for a 2020 Vision Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June. You can register for the pilgrimage on her website, she adds.
Wherever she goes, Tripodi says she hopes to inspire her audiences to let God change their lives for the better.
“When I see the Spirit fall over the hearts and faces that I encounter, it is transforming not only for those who hear but for me as well,” she says. “I love seeing God work, and I am so incredibly humbled to be a part of it.”