BY JACINTA DYKE
“I feel so fortunate to be here with you all,” popular singer and Catholic Audrey Assad told a crowd of more than 500 people who gathered at historic Fort Steuben on Sept. 29, to watch her perform.
Assad partnered with the Harmonium Project to put on the performance and a preshow, which was hosted a few hours before the concert at the location of the Harmonium Project on Fourth Street of downtown Steubenville. About 75 students and Steubenville residents attended the preshow that began with an informal interview of Assad by Marc Barnes, director of the Harmonium Project.
In the interview Assad said she wishes to define herself as a pop-music artist in order to reach a vast audience and not be limited by the music industry’s label of ‘Christian.’ Further, Assad articulated her place in the music industry hoping that her role as an artist would reflect truth, goodness and beauty, and that her Catholic faith would permeate all aspects of her music and life.
At the close of the preshow, Assad led attendees in a few songs of praise and worship before the blessing of the Harmonium Project building.
The Harmonium Project is a student-led movement dedicated to restoring the impoverished downtown Steubenville area by encouraging Franciscan students to share their time and talents with the community. Barnes hopes to accomplish his mission in two ways. First the Harmonium Project is restoring a music venue that will host weekly concerts to bring students downtown and stimulate the local economy. Second the Harmonium Project will establish an after-school music program for the local children in order to offer a safe, creative environment free of crime, drug use and violence.
“I believe the integration of the student body with the downtown area will lead to the betterment of both,” Barnes said.
Assad decided to put on the concert to promote and aid the Harmonium Project. She had spoken to Barnes about the potential for students and Steubenville and was enthusiastic about the project’s mission.
“I just want to thank all of the students who already go down there and patronize businesses and minister to the poor,” she said. “Thank you for being that voice and that light and those hands of Christ in the world, especially in your city.”
Gates opened for the concert around 7 p.m., and both Franciscan students and Steubenville residents flocked to fill the outdoor Fort Steuben venue.
“I heard about the concert from the posters around school,” Franciscan student Dennis Vu said. “I’ve heard her music before. She is really good and so I’m excited to see her perform live.”
“I own every CD of hers,” added fellow fan Megan McQuade.
John Tibbs, a worship leader from Indiana, performed the opening act of the concert. Assad then took the stage for about an hour, captivating the crowd with her vocals.
Student Elizabeth Feudo described the performance as “chilling.” Sarah Michalak agreed and said, “She has the voice of an angel.”
Assad performed almost all of the songs from her latest album “Fortunate Fall,” including “Humble,” “Lead Me On,” “Good to Me,” and the title track. “Fortunate Fall” is her third studio album, preceded by “Heart” and her chart-climbing debut album “The House You’re Building.”
Troubadour copy editor Olivia Sielaff contributed to this article.