Melbourne Catholic Magazine, Media and Communications Office
To celebrate International Women's Day, Melbourne-based singer songwriter Genevieve Bryant visited Melbourne Catholic this week to perform her songs and talk about her music ministry.
Gen was also featured in the March edition of Melbourne Catholic magazine. Read the full piece below
Faith and music on fire: Gen Bryant
The hum of the crowd quietens as bright lights turn on centre stage. It’s the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney in 2017 and the atmosphere of Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney’s Olympic Park is electric. Gen Bryant is on stage, staring into crowd beyond the lights, performing the new single off her EP ‘Enough for Me’.
In the last five years, Genevieve - Gen for short - has become a household name in contemporary praise and worship in the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry scene, performing regularly on stages nationwide.
Across a career that has presented many notable moments, those thatstand out most come from World Youth Day in 2016. 'I got to play the organ at Turin Cathedral,' Gen says. 'I took my guitar down to the catacombs and played at a Mass down there. Who does that? she laughs, 'It's crazy!'
Stylistically, her contemporary pop-folk musical approach mingles acoustic with electronic, and vocally wavering between Sarah McLachlan and Missy Higgins. It’s joyous and it’s soulful.
Based at St John’s parish in Mitcham in Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs, Gen has been leading music ministry for the last 15 years.
When she began her career as many young songwriters do, singing covers of her favourite artists—in her case, Fr Rob Galea—and uploading them to YouTube.
And like other songwriters, she’d cut her teeth musically at both school and church, where Gen was eager to learn as much as she could about music. Years of experience began to accumulate, leading to opportunities like running workshops at festivals and working with children and teachers after forming a liturgical ensemble in her final year of secondary school.
Through a decade’s experience leading worship at the church topped by some stellar YouTube performances, her talent at writing and performing became self-evident.
Fast forward to 2011. Gen was in her mid-twenties, standing among a huge crowd at World Youth Day in Madrid, blown away by the comingling of music and faith. It was the first time she’d seen what she explains as ‘faith and music on fire’, and Gen describes the feeling as her soul being ignited. ‘Back then, I was only ever involved in Parish and school-based music. But I remember looking up at the stage in Madrid and thinking, imagine being up there!’
Since then, many opportunities to share her music have presented themselves for Gen. ‘It’s mind boggling,’ she says.
Gen made her mark nationally by composing the 2015 Australian Catholic Youth Festival theme song ‘Pure of Heart,’ where she performed solo in front of thousands of young people. Since then, she has been a staple at Catholic youth events, singing at Tauron Arena in Krakow for World Youth Day 2016, then in Sydney for the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in 2017.
Now instead of covering songs by Fr Rob, she performs alongside him.
Despite the thrill and spectacle of performing, it’s the little things that Gen finds most touching. A teacher emailed her after a music workshop, saying it helped change a child’s life for the better. ‘Having God work through the music and words that I share? That’s really special.’
But like any journey, the road hasn’t always been smooth, and performing carries its own set of anxieties. ‘Just being young and knowing you have a very, very small voice in a big, big world? That’s a struggle. One really big thing I struggled with a lot were issues with self-confidence and anxiety because I’m usually very quiet.’
One of Gen’s primary focuses at present include music ministry workshops, where she emphasizes the importance of having quality music as part of the Mass experience. ‘Knowing the importance of music within a liturgy really was one of the key foundations for why I do what I do but I think there is a huge need for training and support in both schools and parishes,’ she says.
Gen has a passion for working with the Catholic community. When schools and parishes contact her to do a performance or workshop, Gen is still excited to work with their musicians to assist and encourage them. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a teacher so when I go out to a school I really want to get my hands dirty, so I usually try and do that when I can.’
So what does the future hold? ‘Who knows?’ she says. ‘It’s up to God! I’m never short of ideas or dreams. But for me, I would like to continue networking with Catholic musicians across Melbourne and Australia.’
Gen is working on a new music and looking forward ot the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth this December. 'I think those big festival experiences are really important fo rour Australian young Catholics adn I just want to work on creating cool new sounds. I can't wait to share my new music with young people across Australia and beyond!'
If you're interested in growing the music ministry at your parish or school, send your query to email@example.com
or head to www.genevievebryant.com
for future workshops.