You will want to memorize the name of Canadian singer/songwriter Aileen Lombardo if the next twelve months are anything like the first twelve months since she released her debut CD "Living Water". During that time Lombardo, who makes her home in North York, has been nominated for or won most of the music awards she is eligible for in Canada. In late 2004 she was the recipient of four Covenant Awards nominated for an Urban Music Award and now finds herself nominated for a Juno in the Christian/Gospel Album of the Year category. She was awarded Canada's top prize in Christian music as the female vocalist of the year in 2004. The song "I Believe" penned by her friend Kerroy Williams received the nod for Song of the Year as well as Inspirational and Gospel Song of the Year. The song "Under His Wings" a song she co-wrote, received the nodd for Contemporary Gospel Song of the Year.
For those who have not seen Lombardo in concert you are in for a treat when you get the chance. She is a dynamic performer who sings with passion and transitions easily between prayerful renditions of "It is Well" to reminders of Kim Burrell when you listen to "Thinkin' About His Mercy". Fans of reggae will delight in the cover of Andrae Crouche's "This is the Lord's Doing".
Songs like the aforementioned "Under His Wings" developed from a writing session and the collaborative efforts of Lombardo and friends Kerroy Williams and Joy Brown. Inspiration for the song came from the hymn of the same name first penned by William Cushing and Ira Sankey in 1896. She says she loves the creativity that comes from co-writing songs.
The song "Trust Him" was born during her quiet time before the Lord. She describes this period as a difficult time in her life when she was experiencing heartache. During the midst of her devotional the melody and words came together in a matter of minutes. She says, "Even to this day when I am going through a difficult time I remember the words and I feel as though God is always encouraging me to trust Him."
Lombardo recently returned from her performances at Hosanna 2005 on the island of St. Kitts, where she was the first ever Canadian to appear as a vocalist. This was not her first international exposure however as she has appeared as a soloist with the award winning Toronto Mass Choir traveling to for a number of years, traveling to Italy, Barbados, and Trinidad. In August of 2005 she will accompany the choir to Hungary, Romania, and the United Kingdom.
After a concert earlier in the evening, Lombardo took time to talk about how she has evolved as an artist and grown as and individual during the past year. "I would say spiritually it has really humbled me in a sense that I am just so thankful and I don't understand how God has chosen to use me in this way, but I am so grateful and I just want to be faithful in that."
Marlene O'Neill an internationally acclaimed recording artist performed with Lombardo earlier in the evening and had this to say, "Aileen is an artist that has a true desire to worship and use her talents to glorify God. Her sweet, gentle and humble spirit speaks volumes when in conversation and yet her vocal ability is so powerful you wonder where it came from! Aileen will be around for a long, long while and I look forward to sharing the stage with her again."
The album "Living Water" was made possible by a lot of people who donated their time and services for free and for that she is very grateful. "People were just catching the excitement and they were willing to give" and she adds, "They gave more than 100% and that's what makes the album so great."
The creation of this CD was not the first time Lombardo had been in a studio. She had been in the studio as a soloist with the award winning Toronto Mass Choir. She chose Emmanuel Recording Studios in Toronto, which is home to internationally acclaimed producer Carmon Barry (Sarah McLachlan).
Greg Sczebel, a world class jazz artist who has also been the recipient of numerous awards in Canada and the United States has this to say about Lombardo, "I saw her perform at the Shai Awards (Canada's People's Choice Awards) last year and I was blown away by her performance."
As dynamic as Lombardo can be on stage she is quiet, soft spoken and reflective when you sit and talk with her. She speaks warmly of her grandmothers, immediate family and cat 'pootchie'. In fact this writer recalls the very first time he encountered Lombardo after a concert the first thing she did was to introduce her grandmother.
Aileen Lombardo does not take her success for granted because it has been a long time coming. During her teen years she had drifted away from the Lord and in her words was "doing my own thing". She was also part of a mainstream band that produced a CD. When she rededicated her life to the Lord she vowed she would sing for God.
She says, "I told the producer if he could record gospel music I would love to do it and if he couldn't I didn't know what else or if we could go any further. He actually said there is no market for gospel music and we don't know what to do with it. That was a mistake because at the time there wasn't but as time went on the market grew and now there is a big market and so now I am thankful for that I stood my ground and just waited because since the dream occurred the first time it has been about ten years that I waited for the opportunity to record."
When asked what was going through her mind earlier in the evening when she was performing she replied, "There were some moments I was thinking, I just can't believe I am doing this right now. It is really amazing to see all the faces of so many people praising the Lord. As I looked out I saw people raising their hands and worshipping God. The worship segment was the best moment for me. It's just amazing that we can come together to use our gifts and just worship God in one place."
Why does Aileen Lombardo sing? Well for her the answer is easy. "It's a big part of how I praise and worship God and give back what he's given to me."
Writer: Joe Montague