Songs of a Catholic Childhood

a liberating musical journey from
Chicago’s beloved folk duo

Reading. Writing. Remembering. 
First communion. First confession.
First crush. First kiss.

In solos and duets, Smith and O’Reilly perform a winning group of songs, and talk about life in parochial schools during their “formative” years:  His – as the eldest of 6, in the working class Irish/Italian neighborhoods of post-WWII New Jersey, in the ’40s, and ’50s. Hers – as the 4th-girl-in-the-middle of a family of 14 kids, in a small Illinois town during the post-Vatican II, Baby-Boom era of the ’60s and ’70s. In the course of their 20-year musical partnership, Jamie and Michael have created powerful theatrical productions: Pasiones, Hello Dali, Gift of the Magi, Scarlet Confessions. None is as heartfelt as “Songs”.

This Sunday afternoon at Chief O’Neill’s was a real palate cleanser. The fine restaurant and pub was wonderful venue for celebrated songwriter, singer, guitarist and unapologetic Catholic Michael Smith and songstress Ms. Jamie O’Reilly. The songs and tone itself was a celebration of Catholic experience, especially those of us who remember pre-Vatican II.  May Crownings, Christmas memories and sweet classroom moments were celebrated in songs adapted or written by O’Reilly and Smith. Together Smith and O’Reilly have created a two-hour song tribute to the American Catholic Experience.  This is not a nun-bashing, priest eviscerating abattoir, but a banquet of sacred and touching memory of Catholic Childhood.

P. Hickey, Blogger

They bring us to our lives, to cherish what is simple, know what is lost, heal what is hurt. And remember the best of times…

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…Fasting on Fridays, the Christmas play, Latin Mass, report card day, tornado drills, diving under the desk, reciting the rosary, nightly prayers, May-crownings…


History

Michael Smith First Communion

Songs of A Catholic Childhood debuted to a full – and captivated house – at Mayne Stage, Chicago, as a benefit for St. Scholastica Academy.  In April, 2012, Jamie and Michael performed a sold-out Spring Showcase at the lovely Chief O’Neill’s Pub, Chicago.  New songs were written for the show, which also features odes to the Virgin Mary, Latin hymns, folk-mass songs and popular songs and music from the movies: 1936-1970s  (Vaya Con Dios, True Love, Bells of St. Mary’s).  Among the concert’s 20 plus songs are signature songs from Jamie’s concert repertoire (The Holy City, She Would Sing the Kerry Dances), and from Michael’s 1995 autobiographical play Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate, winner of 5 Jefferson Awards (Sr. Clarissa, 5 Angels, I Brought My Father With Me).  Performances: Mayne Stage in Chicago, (benefit for St. Scholastica Academy), Chief O’Neill’s Pub in Chicago, Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, IL, Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, Arts Center Traverse City, MI.


Testimonials

“We heard Jamie O’Reilly, Michael Smith and Peter Swenson in their “Songs of a Catholic Childhood” – funny, sweet, and a trip back in time!  Wonderful show with wonderful friends – a perfect evening.” —Thea Pazen

“Gorgeous, glorious, heart-breaking/warming/stopping, tears of laughter and sorrow performance last night! Would not have missed it for the world.  So many, many memories Thank you and Michael for your beautiful voices, music, and souls.” —B. Bremner, Theater Director, Playwright

“I too laughed and cried. A beautiful show indeed”. –-L. Smith

“I laughed and cried tonight at your lovely and beautiful show.” —K. O’Neill

“This Sunday afternoon at Chief O’Neill’s was a real palate cleanser. The fine restaurant and pub was wonderful venue for celebrated songwriter, singer, guitarist and unapologetic Catholic Michael Smith and songstress Ms. Jamie O’Reilly. The songs and tone itself was a celebration of Catholic experience, especially those of us who remember pre-Vatican II.  May Crownings, Christmas memories and sweet classroom moments were celebrated in songs adapted or written by O’Reilly and Smith. Together Smith and O’Reilly have created a two-hour song tribute to the American Catholic Experience.  This is not a nun-bashing, priest eviscerating abattoir, but a banquet of sacred and touching memory of Catholic Childhood.” –P. Hickey, Blogger

Michael

“People were over the moon about what they experienced. They laughed; they cried. I have carried the songs in this show and CD in my mind, heart and soul for years. They mean more as time goes on. Once performed, they are a gift that we share forever.” –Judi Heikes, St. Scholastica Alumnae Board

“Jamie and Michael’s paring of simple, poetic and poignant stories of a catholic youth will resonate with any Catholic School student – past and present. –Bernadette Haderlein, LA Archdiocese Early Childhood Advisory Board

Jamie & the clan

I was there at the first concert. I laughed; I cried; I sang along. I remembered how magical the May crownings were in my childhood at St. Margaret Mary and St. Thomas the Apostle schools. I remembered the thrill of singing as a boy soprano. It all came back, and I was happy just to be there and enjoy it all.

Willem O’Reilly, Artist, Boulder, CO

WHEN THE STARS GOT DIVORCED YOU COULDN’T GO TO THEIR MOVIES?

Academy Award winning actress Ingrid Bergman was married to Petter Lindström, with whom she had a daughter, when she was cast in Italian director Roberto Rossellini’s film “Stromboli” in 1950. During production, she fell in love with Rossellini, who was also married at the time, and became pregnant with their son. A great scandal ensued, and Bergman was censured on the floor of the U.S. Congress and couldn’t return to America for years. “Hollywood wouldn’t touch her,” said James Robert Parish, the author of “The Hollywood Book of Scandals.” She and Rosselini married in May 1950 (after a highly publicized divorce) and subsequently had twin daughters. (reposted from AOL Online)

 “When the stars got divorced you couldn’t go to their movies.
No matter how fun.
‘Specially if they played a nun”.
– from “Pagan Children.


Michael P. Smith songs © 2011, Bird Avenue Publishing, ASCAP
Songs of a Catholic Childhood was produced with support from Main Royal Design