Songs of the Summer Realm by Jessica Victoria
Remarkable classical singer and composer Jessica Victoria takes her fans on a magical, inspiring, musical journey exploring Arthurian mythic history in her debut album, Songs of the Summer Realm, writes Nick Benson
Whilst some musicians may look to predictable approaches and stick to one particular musical stream, New Mexico-born songstress Jessica Victoria defies convention at every stage.
Born blind, Jessica’s condition does not hold her back in any way. Composing using Braille music and transcription, Jessica, a Catholic who credits God with being her “strength and refuge”, exploits both her classical training and singer-songwriter credentials and finds lyrical and thematic influence from Arthurian mythic history in her debut album, Songs of the Summer Realm.
The album has a little something for everyone, transporting the listener to a different time and place, while instilling ideas and ideals which remain incredibly relevant. Preceded by three exclusive tracks, Wayfaring Stranger; Love Charm and Some Songs are for Crying, from classical to opera to Celtic folk to rock and pop, the musical journeys Jessica takes listeners on are as inspiring as they are magical.
“This is the first album on which I’m following my passion for song-writing and mythic history, I am a classically trained musician who still loves to do opera, orchestra and recital work, but this album is the beginning of a new life for me in many ways.”
Jessica wrote many of the songs at her harp, known as ‘Merlin’, which is a Merlin RHarp made by Rick Rubarth in Colorado.
“Some may wonder how a girl who grew up in Albuquerque developed such a love for Celtic culture and music,” she admitted. “One answer may lie in our family’s roots. In the last few years, my research revealed the likelihood that some of my family came from Galicia, a part of Spain with Celtic links.”
Opening up about her faith, Jessica revealed: “Throughout my musical life, I have experienced many parallels between the practice of music and the practice of prayer. The Incarnation, with all of its joy and mystery, is at the very centre of my spiritual experience throughout my life, God has been my strength and my refuge.”
Amid the uncertainty and worry of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jessica admitted: “I, too feel the tug toward fear and anxiety, toward worry and powerlessness. Instead of letting these feelings invade my soul, I choose to open the window to light and hope. Instead of dwelling on cancelled concerts, I treat these days as precious opportunities to work on new projects.”
Jessica has performed for St John Paul II at the Vatican, as well as at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and with orchestras in the United States, Europe and South America, picking up many awards for her vocal performances along the way, but this still doesn’t reflect the sheer scale of her musical output.
With ancestral links to Celtic regions around the world, Jessica’s fascination with both the music and literature from these areas permeates her music, with lyrics both traditional texts and her own contributions accentuating the strong female characters in Arthurian legend, and extolling the virtues of leaders of integrity who often seem so missing from the present day.
Jessica, or Dr Jessica Victoria to name her correctly, holds a doctorate in musical arts from The Catholic University of America, a Master of Music in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and bachelors’ degrees in music and foreign languages from the University of New Mexico, where she graduated summa cum laude.
In addition to a thriving performance career, she also directs the voice track of the Sacred Music Program at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Collaborating artists on Songs of the Summer Realm, which was recorded at Watercolour Music in the Scottish Highlands, included such well-known Scottish musicians as Lorne MacDougall of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the Tannahill Weavers; Mary Ann Kennedy; Euan Stevenson; Wendy Weatherby and Euan Burton.
Songs of the Summer Realm by Jessica Victoria is available through CD Baby from 1st May.