Sister Janet Mead explored the addition of rock music to the liturgy.
At 17 years old, Janet Mead formed a rock band to provide music for her church’s weekly Mass. She studied piano at Adelaide Conservatorium before joining the Sisters of Mercy, a congregation of teaching nuns. She explored the concept of a “Rock Mass” in the early 1970s with the desire to create a more interesting and accessible Mass for her students.
In 1973, Sr. Janet began making professional recordings of her music for the schools and churches where she worked. Later that year, she was in a recording session with Festival Records, in Sydney, when Festival producer Martin Erdman convinced Mead to record a rock arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer” to serve as a B-side.
The single was widely popular and became the first Australian record to sell over one million copies in the US, earning a gold record award. Mead donated her share of the royalties to charity.
The success of her single led to a full length album, With You I Am, which reached #19 in summer of ’74. Her second album, A Rock Mass, was a complete recording of one of her “Rock Masses,” a musical liturgical setting of the Mass which included electric guitar and bass as well as a drum set.
Humble and media shy, Mead refers to her musical success as a “horrible time” in her life, one with pressures that led her to question her faith. She recorded a third album, which was filed away and not released until the 25th anniversary of “The Lords Prayer.” The 1999 album was called A Time To Sing.
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