Hitting a high note

Sean_Clive_BW

Sean_Clive_BWSt. Anthony of Padua parishioner wins “Song of the Year” award

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

Sean Clive, parishioner and choir director at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Chadwicks, felt exhilarated and humbled after winning the 2007 “Song of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year” awards at the Unity Awards ceremony (the Catholic version of the Grammies) in Phoenix, Ariz. In addition, his CD Amazed won the “Pop/ Contemporary Alblum of the Year” award. Clive’s song, “Amazed” also won the Grand Award in the Songdoor International Songwritng contest. In addition, his song, “The Everlasting” won an award in the Christian category of the contest.

“So much went into creating a recording that would express both my faith and joy in this journey of faith as well as my gratitude for God’s love,” said Clive. “With my music outside the church, when someone comes up to tell me how a specific song touched their heart or helped them through a difficult time or inspired them to reach for something greater than they could accomplish themselves, trusting in God, it is so humbling. When I get to share my stories of life and love, children, marriage and faith with people of all different faiths, it is awesome.”

Clive’s music has been inspired by God, his family and various situations and events. “Usually the songs that jump out and don’t require much thought and end up sticking, are the ones I feel are the most inspired by God,” said Clive. He is also inspired by a specific scriptural passage or liturgical prayer.

Clive explained that the first song he wrote was composed while he was attending high school and was totally enamored with his then future wife, Jennifer. Clive’s first CD also includes songs about the death of his mother and the suicide of one of his brother’s classmates. “On my most recent CD, there is a song written with my brother and father in mind,” said Clive. “They cared for my mom in the final months of her struggle with cancer. The song is called ‘I Will Carry You.’”

Clive first became involved in music while in fourth grade when he studied the trumpet. His mother also played a major role in his musical development. “Mom strongly encouraged me to join my high school choir,” said Clive. “Music was always around the house, with my mom singing everything — including our daily wake-up call.”

Clive’s music career began in high school, when he played the guitar for a folk group in exchange for guitar lessons. Then, while attending Colgate University, Clive led the Colgate 13, an a capella singing group. After graduating from Colgate, Clive was asked by Father Ed Hayes to lead the music program at St. Anthony’s. He has served there since 1994.

Clive finds his experience in music ministry to be very rewarding. He directs the choir, selecting music for the liturgy and prepares for special liturgies and events. “In our parish, it has been so inspiring to see the development of a community of prayer with people raising their voices to praise God through singing,” said Clive. “In the beginning, very few people sang. But now, our little parish doesn’t hold to the adage that Catholics can’t/don’t sing, because the people at St. Anthony’s do sing! That has been so rewarding for me, and it is only through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they do.”

For the last few years, Clive has also assisted St. John the Evangelist Church in New Hartford as the director of the Contemporary Music Group. He’s also served other parishes with special liturgies for youth.

Since 2003, Clive has performed at coffeehouses, concerts, retreats and special events, such as the annual Journey of Faith. “This has been both rewarding and challenging, as it happens in places and with people who are not familiar with Catholicism or who often have a biased view of Catholics, Catholic music and the Catholic church.

“Music and the music ministry outside the walls of the church has forced me to look deeper into why I believe what I believe and why the church teaches what she does. Music has been the vehicle for the deepening of my faith as well as the road God has led me to other faithful and inspirational Catholics. My personal prayer life and that of my family’s is much stronger than it was.”

Clive said that he is thankful for the other Catholic musicians who are working to make Catholic music great. “The recent awards that were given out show that Catholic music and musicians are forging a way into the crazy world of music that is filled with so much despair, violence and sadness, showing that music can be both good and good for you,” said Clive. “Pope John Paul II addressed his 1999 letter to artists: ‘To all who are passionately dedicated to the search for new epiphanies of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.’ That is actually why we do what we do — to offer our gifts back to God so that the world may enjoy them.”

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