Recently, World Religion News featured an article about how “Mormon Musicians Are Dominating Billboard‘s Classical Music Charts” by Kelly Frazier. Mormon artists like Lindsey Stirling, The Piano Guys, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Paul Cardall, and, most recently, Nathan Pacheco, have all made it to top ten spots in classical music. Why are Mormons having so much success in the music industry, especially in classical music?
Kalley Frazier points out in the World Religion News article that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe that music is a way to draw closer to God and be inspired by Him. It’s also a way to inspire and help others who may feel sad, lonely, or discouraged.
Latter-day Saints believe in the Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of revelations from God through early modern-day prophets) and the teachings of living prophets and apostles today. All of these sources agree that music is a gift from God and that uplifting music has the power to bring us closer to Him. Here are a few examples:
In the Bible, Paul teaches followers of Jesus Christ that they should be “admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one meaning of the word “admonish” means “to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement.” In that sense, Paul is saying that spiritual songs are a way to encourage and even advise others. Latter-Day Saints believe that uplifting songs invite God’s Spirit to teach us in a personal way. Thus, inspiring music allows us to receive advice directly from God. If that’s not encouraging, what is?
Here’s another example: in The Book of Mormon, there is a story about a group of people who had to cross the ocean in cramped, dark boats. It took them about a year to reach land. Throughout their journey, they “did sing praises unto the Lord” all day and night, and it comforted them and brought them peace even during treacherous storms. Likewise, Latter-Day Saints believe that inspiring music can bring us real comfort when we go through “storms” or difficult challenges in our lives. Good music brings us closer to God so that we gain a higher perspective and added spiritual strength to be able to handle everything that comes our way.
Classical music tends to always be uplifting, which explains why Mormon musicians often become successful in that genre. However, there are Mormons who are successful across almost all genres of music. For example, the lead singer and lead guitarist of Imagine Dragons are LDS, and their music has topped rock and alternative music charts many times.
The World Religion News article gives the most attention to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Lindsey Stirling, Nathan Pacheco, and The Piano Guys. Frazier reports that “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.” One of the songs included on their latest album is “Through Heaven’s Eyes” from Prince of Egypt featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Frazier also reports that “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.” Lindsey was also awarded the Top Dance/Electronic Album award for Brave Enough in the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, which was especially significant for Lindsey because EDM (electronic dance music) is her favorite genre of music. Frazier adds that Lindsey “also ranked no. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 for her album Shatter Me in 2014.” Her latest music video features “Forgotten City,” a song she composed for the new video game RiME.
World Religion News goes on to highlight talented LDS tenor Nathan Pacheco whose album, Higher, reached #6 on the Classical Crossover chart and #8 on the Classical chart this past week. He also sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When he writes or performs music, he hopes that the listeners will feel inspired. The song below, “Be Thou My Vision,” is part of his album, Higher. It’s a beautiful cover of Pacheco’s favorite Irish hymn.
Last but not least, The Piano Guys’ most recent album Uncharted was ranked at #7 on the Classical Crossover chart and #9 on the Classical chart. Many of their songs are fun and upbeat, inspiring joy and optimism. Below is their Scottish-style cover of “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.
Mormons really do believe that music is a gift from God, and it is meant to bring us joy and inspiration. Uplifting music can even be seen as a symbol of the joy Jesus’ gospel can bring. During the LDS General Conference of April 2015, one leader spoke about how the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a song. If we learn and accept His gospel, then we are inviting beautiful “music” into our lives. When we follow Jesus’ example of love and service, we are “dancing” to that music. It’s easy to dance when there is music to dance to. However, if we ever decide to turn off, stop listening, or distance ourselves from the music, then dancing will suddenly become very difficult and awkward. That is why Latter-Day Saints believe it is so important to constantly learn more about Jesus’ gospel. As we do, our lives will be filled with joyous music that will enable us to dance.