Mormon musicians are finding big time success.
Latter-day Saints are making waves in music, making a big impact in the industry and listeners’ lives as they excel in their craft. This week, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir reached the no. 1 spot on Billboard’s June 3 Classical Crossover Chart for their most recent album, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Friends. This is the 12th time this has happened for the well-recognized choir, and the album also reached no. 2 on the Classical Overall Chart. The album features well-known artists James Taylor, Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, Angela Lansbury, Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel, David Foster and more.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is composed of 360 individuals, and they have performed internationally at prestigious concert halls, and in broadcast online media as well. The album Mormon Tabernacle and Friends is a collection of recordings from performances in the past 15 years, and includes a piece with Sting and Yo-Yo Ma at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and a performance of Lonesome Road with James Taylor.
LDS and Lovin' it: CD REVIEWS: Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends & Ci… https://t.co/zdsNxHXuG6
— Heidi Grange (@GeoLibrarian) May 2, 2017
The Mormons’ love for music isn’t just a recent phenomenon. Mormons are known to make “great, homely American music,” as was apparent when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang at current president Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony. They were also present in the inaugural events for presidents Ronald Reagan, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a “robust musical tradition,” as shown by one of the revelations of founder Joseph Smith of God’s affirmation that “the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me,” reinforcing the idea that those who worship God should not only speak to their Maker, but also sing to Him.
According to Philip Barlow, a Mormon scholar at the Utah State University, there are faiths that “view the chasm between God and humanity as bridgeable, and see music as one way of travelling that distance.” The choir lives out this belief, as they continue to bring honor and glory to the church and God with their exemplary performances. As LDS President Heber J. Grant said in 1940, “The singing of our sacred hymns, written by the servants of God, has a powerful effect in converting people to the principles of the Gospel and in promoting peace and spiritual growth.”
“Music is given of God to further his purposes. Sweet melodies mellow the souls of men and help prepare them for the gospel. After men receive the truth, songs of praise to Deity help to sanctify and cleanse their souls.”
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), 521
Former Mormon President Brigham Young defined music as a “magic power” that could “fill the air with harmony, and cheer and comfort the hearts of men, and so wonderfully affect the brute creation” (JD 1:48). He also lead the release of official LDS statements on music, and since his time as a leader, the General Authorities of the Church continue to hold music in high regard, “as a soothing influence, a purifier of thought, and a uniter of hearts.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir members aren’t the only Mormons who are exceling in the field of music. Lindsey Stirling, the dancing violinist, also charted on this week’s Classical and Classical Crossover charts at #4 and #2 respectively for her album Brave Enough. The album has spent 40 weeks on each of the charts. The only other album in the Top 10 Classical Crossover chart is John Williams’ score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Earlier this month, Stirling received the Top Dance/Electronic Album award for her album Brave Enough during the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. On the album are Stirling’s performances with well-known artists Christina Perri and Andrew McMahon. Stirling plays the violin as McMahon sings in Something Wild, a song that also appeared on the soundtrack for Disney’s Pete’s Dragon in 2016. Stirling also ranked no. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 for her album Shatter Me in 2014. The successful classically trained violinist has amassed over 9 million subscribers and 1.3 billlion-plus views on YouTube. She is also a bestselling author, making the New York Times Bestseller list with her book The Only Pirate at the Party, co-written with sister Brook S. Passey.
Nathan Pacheco is another Mormon making his indelible mark in music. The classically trained tenor recently produced Higher, an album that features 12 religious songs, including Amazing Grace, His Love, and How Great Thou Art. It includes a Pacheco original, Through All My Days. The album charts this week at #8 and #6 on the Classical and Classical Crossover charts respectively. Pacheco said producing the album was an emotional and spiritual experience for him, and he hopes for the same experience for his fans. "It's as if I learned something that cannot be described in words but only through music. I hope the same feelings I felt while arranging and recording the songs will be felt by every single listener." Pacheco was a part of an LDS Church mission in Brazil, where he sang the message of the gospel in buses, churches and in the streets. He loves languages, lives by the importance of family and faith, and also sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He was inspired by a speech Elder Jeffrey R. Holland delivered, a speech that motivated him to take a leap of faith into pursuing music.
Utah-based YouTube sensation The Piano Guys is a group of Mormon artists who have also achieved a great level of success. The group includes pianist Jon Schimdt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, producer-videographer Paul Anders and music producer-songwriter Al Van Dar Beek. They have appeared on television, have released multiple albums and have toured internationally. They give back all the glory to God and credit him for their success. “It feels like it’s just happened for a reason higher than ourselves. We don’t feel like it’s about the four of us, or even about our families. We feel like there’s something bigger or it wouldn’t be happening like this, ” said Nelson. The Piano Guys Christmas video of O Come, Emmanuel appears on MormonChannel.org and they link to Mormon.org on their official website. The group prays every time they record music, shoot videos or write songs. The Piano Guys charted at #9 and #7 on the Classical and Classical Crossover charts this week respectively with their album Uncharted.
And if you wanna have some nice chill music I recommend "The Piano Guys – Uncharted" album 😎
— Fruitgom (@Fruitgom93) May 28, 2017
As Mormon President George Albert Smith declared in 1946, “I wonder sometimes if we realize the importance of music. I wonder if we know that the Lord himself is concerned about it. He has given us the information that the song of praise is a prayer unto him. . . . It [is] our privilege, yea, our blessing, to sing and . . . our songs should be sung in righteousness.” Mormons fully realize the beauty and power of music, and it manifests in the way they worship and express their faith.
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir
- Amazon -Mormon Tabernacle and Friends
- The Economist
- World Religion News -James Taylor, Amy Grant, Sting, & More on New Mormon Tabernacle Choir Album
- World Religion News -6 Big-time Clergy Are Praying at Trump’s Inauguration
- The Church of Latter-day Saints
- Lindsey Stirling
- Amazon -The Only Pirate at the Party
- Nathan Pacheco
- LDS Living
- The Piano Guys
- Deseret News
- Mormon Channel