Jean-paul-prat christian, modern,music-gospel, pop-rock,singer-song
Modern music, gospel, singer, song, praise, pop, rock…
Interview of Jean-Paul PRAT
Caldeira Organisation – Jean-Paul Prat
Today, we welcome Jean-Paul Prat, permanent deacon, founder of the Community of the Apostles of Peace, song writer and leader of the band Aquero. Jean-Paul is married and has five children. For the last twenty years, he has been living a communal life in the Monts du Lyonnais. He has also created the “Ephphata” sessions – work of incarnation and opening to life.
Caldeira: What is a Christian for you?
Jean-Paul Prat: It is to continue to believe, in spite of appearances, that thanks to God’s goodness, man is and will remain capable of sensitivity, intelligence and unconditional love.
Caldeira: It seems that you are saying that appearances might suggest the contrary.
Jpp: We live in a world and society that display the opposite of sensitivity, intelligence and unconditional love. We make human beings who are incapable of thinking for themselves, men and women who can no longer listen or see and take what is left of their truthfulness for the truth.
Caldeira: Don’t you think you are exaggerating?
Jpp: I merely state a fact and I don’t think my statement is exaggerated. It doesn’t mean there’s no exception!
Caldeira: Are you one of them?
Jpp: I believe that, when one has realized how urgent it is for men to inhabit themselves, to find in the depths of their beings the One who will reveal to them their true identities and the immense land that this earthly life invites them to open up, they start to be amongst the exceptions because they are on the way. It is not a question of merit or of some superiority.
Caldeira: Pope Benedict XVI has just made a address to the artists in which he recalls what his predecessors had already said: “We need you.” To what extend to you feel concerned by this? Do you think of yourself as an artist?
Jpp: I’m delighted that our Pope continues with the dialogue his predecessors had initiated with the artists. It’s so important that the Church, through the Supreme Pontiff, tells the artists that she needs them. I feel like telling him as well: “We need you!” Yes, I believe I am an artist.
Caldeira: What makes you think that? What are the objective criteria that allow us to say that a person is an artist?
Jpp: For a long time, I’ve felt a drive from the inside to opening, through beauty and imagination, windows onto Heaven. True art creates openings which draw man to a “greater.” Nowadays, few of those who are considered as artists and who might possess the gifts and qualities required, enter this reality. Most of them work for themselves and aim for their own profit or a kind of personal glory.
Caldeira: In several of your comments, we can notice a certain amount of pessimism and even a strong judgment on our world. Doesn’t this contradict the hope conveyed in your answer to my first question?
Jpp: There exists no pessimism and no judgment in the fact of seeing things as they are. It would be stupid to mask the truth for fear of not being able to face it. That’s what we often do. For optimism’s sake, we refuse to look at misery in the face (including ours). By acting like this, we are looking for some sort of survival when we are made for Life.
Caldeira: Jean-Paul Prat, you are amongst other things lead singer of the band Aquero. Do you think Aquero songs can be called works of art?
Jpp: You are raising an important point here. I don’t think Aquero songs can be considered as major works of art. We should actually ask ourselves whether singing is a major art.
However, after having often considered it, I believe Aquero gives out something that is much greater than it seems. Some people understand this and discern the richness of its contents that seems hidden at first under its popular and simple aspect. This is why I can say that even if Aquero does not really make extraordinary works of art, we, however, do artistic work.
Caldeira: Aren’t your songs simply a vessel to talk about your faith?
Jpp: As a matter of fact, no. This is why I look for a language (both in lyrics and music) which conveys life without automatically “shouting out” the faith. It isn’t easy to keep a very clear discourse that shows that the source of joy, peace and simplicity is indeed held in our faith in Jesus Christ and allows people to be free in front of the message all at the same time. People must first be touched by joy and simplicity, natural beauty which must create the desire to acquire such happiness. It is like the treasure in the field from the Gospel. The man finds it and sells all that he has to buy it. It is not about offering to people to join the “catholic party” or to adhere to ideas, however Christian. It is about showing Jesus Christ, way, truth and life through what his presence makes us experience, feel and understand.
Caldeira: What you are saying is very powerful. How do you explain that with such desire, which shows a real and deep reflection on what is true evangelization, your band give relatively few performances? When I hear what you’ve just said, I tell myself that you should, on the contrary, be over-booked by the Church!
Jpp: That’s what I think too! (Laugh) Unfortunately, I think that even in the Church, people look for what they already know, which is not necessarily going to lead them further, into new paths. In the question of youth evangelization, for instance, we often end up looking for what might please young people, that is to conform to what the spirit of this world “gives” nowadays’ young people, when, to me, we should open up new horizons in front of them.
Caldeira: But do you think young people are ready to accept something else than what they like?
Jpp: Yes, if we find the way to make them discover that they are capable of appreciating something else than what they think they like. I am not suggesting music they would be completely impervious to, but to start from the music they are used to listening to and to open it onto a “greater” one. Haven’t you noticed that many of the bands that are popular with young people play music that goes round in circle?
Caldeira: What do you mean?
Jpp: Music that quickly turns monotonous, a song that sounds very much like the previous song.
Caldeira: Are talking about Christian bands?
Jpp: I mean bands in general, but this does not exclude Christian bands. The musical and textual content of most modern Christian bands is often very poor. I don’t think gathering young people under one banner is enough. Praise and worship are capital in a Christian’s life and it is important to have praise concerts where men and women can express their faith with the whole of their being. But we should be careful to distinguish art and praise. Where are the Christian musicians who open up new horizons, who take the risk to search for novelty, beauty, imagination, instead of mimicking what the world exudes?
Caldeira: Jean-Paul, I know that as well as Aquero, you have founded Masal, your old instrumental music band and that a new CD is soon going to be released. Do you hope to fulfill a need of our time in this way?
Jpp: I’ve started playing this music again because it sort of imposed itself onto me. I don’t know if many will listen to it, but I know that it shows something of the kingdom of God, in its structure itself. The absence of words give it a universal dimension, it conveys no verbal message. I find it both deep and full of humour at the same time, it reveals great freedom. A need of our time, for certain, but will those living in our time realise this? That’s another story!
Caldeira: Is there a connection between music and the Ephphata sessions you’ve been offering for almost twenty-five years?
Jpp: The Ephphata teaching was born of my music. It helps people go back down in themselves, in the place of the sanctuary, where God has his dwelling. It is by living in Him who lives in us that our ears and eyes open. The Community of the Apostles of Peace, the Ephphata sessions, Aquero and Masal are instruments that serve true life and true peace. I would like to call all men to take the path that will lead then to inhabit themselves. He or she who inhabits themselves is peace maker, for they stand ahead of opinion fights and quarrels. It is like they are in the eye of the hurricane, but not in the whirlwind. This is why their words can become whirlwind, whirlwind of love.
Caldeira: Thank you Jean-Paul Prat for your message of life and may your music spread and cast peace and joy around.
Jean-Paul Prat: I thank you for your much relevant questions and your time.
To go further:
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