Some people have a clear path in their life. Maybe it’s a talent that makes them able to let their inner feelings speak out. Or maybe it’s their relentless call towards doing something. It’s said that some of them have talent. Or mastery. Or even genius. Or maybe just a spark that ignites them.
You’re human and, consciously or not, you seek your own path. And it’s really something when you feel you’ve found it. You can consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
But what do you do if you feel your inner calling luring you on paths unexplored by anyone before you? If you don’t have the courage to break the walls of social constraints, you separate yourself from a part of your being and follow the flow of some artificial routes, always living with the sense of being half of what you are, and not enhancing your capabilities. Or, if you have a strong heart, simply destroy all obstructions in the world and let your soul follow the unifying stream of life.
That’s what took place one spring on The Voice of Italy.
On this page:
- 1 The Blind Audition: No One (Alicia Keys cover)
- 2 Duel: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
- 3 Knock-out: Hero (Mariah Carey cover)
- 4 Live Show 1: Flashdance… What a Feeling (Irene Cara cover)
- 5 Live Show 2: Uno Su Mille (Gianni Morandi cover)
- 6 Live Show 3: Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi cover)
- 7 Semifinals: (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes cover) + Sally (Vasco Rossi cover)
- 8 Finals: Gli Anni (883 cover) + Lungo La Riva (new song)
- 9 The Result: Like a Virgin (Madonna cover)
The Blind Audition: No One (Alicia Keys cover)
There were a lot of musical talent contests on TV. It didn’t seem like anyone could come up with something new. But some don’t stumble on cliches.
If we’re talking about a singing contest, what’s the most important thing that matters? The voice. What if the jury could only listen and not see?!? That’s what the famous Dutch producer John de Mol thought. And he created The Voice of Holland in 2010.
This successful idea spread to dozens of countries. In the Italian Peninsula it became The Voice of Italy. And the 2014 edition brought one of the biggest surprises in the history of televised competitions.
Imagine this: you’re in the jury, you’re facing the audience, and listening to the next interpretation. You easily recognize the song, “No One”, but it doesn’t sound like Alicia Keys. But it’s not bad at all. You press the button. The chair turns around. You are curious to know who you voted for. But that’s something you would have never expected. How would you react?!
You might ask yourself: Is it for real? Or maybe some crazy lunatic? Nowadays we’ve seen them all.
Sister Cristina is a pledged nun. She’s part of the Ursuline Order of the Catholic Church.
The order was established in 1535 in Brescia, members of which will lay down their lives in the service of educating girls (a highly significant activity until education was generalized), caring for the suffering, and helping the needy. Of course, all in the name of God and under the guidance of the Church.
Cristina Scuccia was born in 1988 in Comiso, Sicily. Feeling a great love for God, in 2009 she decided to become a nun. She started as a novice in Brazil, working for two years for the good of the poor children. Sister Cristina was accepted into the Order. And from that moment on, she had only her calling to follow.
But we’re talking about a special young girl. Sister Cristina loves music. If you think about it, a nun who sings is not unusual. Religious music is sung in every church. Seriously. But taking a look at Sister Cristina, you realize that she adores singing! She sings with almost childlike craving and dedication. If it’s God’s gift, then why not?
It’s extraordinary how she is confident about what she is: a nun. While all those who climb on stage don’t know how to make themselves seem more cool/sexy/crazy/trendy, she just comes to sing. Without fear. With all her soul.
So, on The Voice of Italy, she turned all 4 seats. And chose J-Ax, a rapper who turned to rock. A “devil”, as he declares himself. Yet, we could see in his insatiable eyes what the true shape of his heart is. And from the powerful social messages in his songs, especially those in favor of immigrants.
Being questioned by Raffaella Carra about what the Vatican’s opinion regarding her performance was, Sister Cristina answered frankly: “I really don’t know. I’m expecting a call from Pope Francesco. He’s always inviting us to go into the world and evangelize. He tells us that God does not take anything, but gives us something in addition. This is why I am here.”
She wasn’t called directly by the Pope, but Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, responsible for culture in the pontifical council, shortly wrote a Twitter support message: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others. (1 Peter 4:10) #suorcristina
Duel: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
After auditions, the duel followed up. Suor Cristina Scuccia vs Luna Palumbo.
That “rascal”, J-Ax, chose the song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, which Cyndi Lauper will remain in the history of music. A very appropriate song for any young singer. But was it the same for a nun?!
Well, human nature is best seen in challenges.
As Noemi from the Jury pointed out, everyone is most likely thinking of the well-known movie: “Sister Act”. But in the film, the character played by Whoopi Goldberg was a singer who wasn’t such a big fan of church, that was only hiding among the nuns, being sought by some mobsters. In this competition we have in front of our eyes a real nun, singing hits!
Before making the final decision between the two duelists, beyond whatever could be said about the musical performance of each other, J-Ax made an excellent point: “I noticed something very rare. When Sister Cristina sings, she spreads joy, and that’s her gift.”
Perhaps this is the most honest reason why J-Ax placed all bets on her. Or maybe he simply felt that a natural phenomenon is taking place there too, which he had abandoned himself just to find out how far it goes. All he had to do was declare her the winner in “court” in front of the crowd at the live gala. There, she and her unusual gesture had to face the most ruthless jury of each artist in this world.
You can do anything – jump around, smile, hug everyone… Only if your heart is full of joy, if you live in joy – the joy of being who you are -, only then you can spread this amazing energy around you.
Let us not forget that love is feeling. And when you have love for God and for people, it’s amazing to make everyone experience it.
Knock-out: Hero (Mariah Carey cover)
Here we are at the Knock-out stage. Suor Cristina Scuccia vs Benedetta Giovagnini.
If J-Ax made a psychological test out of his first choice, now he has chosen a song for the soul, made world-famous by Mariah Carey. The lyrics of the song “Hero” say: “You don’t have to be afraid of what you are.” And the chorus reminds us that the hero who can save us from any difficult situation dwells within each of us. Sister Cristina can sing this song to everyone she has to work with as a nun.
After she gave him goose bumps, J-Ax sent her further.
Live Show 1: Flashdance… What a Feeling (Irene Cara cover)
Sister Cristina reached the live shows. From that moment on, the spectators in front of the TV have an important role. Her presence in the competition is controversial. But all she could do is sing.
And she sings. It’s amazing how much meaning a song, that has nothing to do with religion, can get through the performance of a nun. Words receive a different meaning, the message becomes stronger. “What a feeling! / Being’s believin’! / I can have it all / Now I’m dancing for my life. / Take your passion / And make it happen, / Pictures come alive, / You can dance right through your life.” – Irene Cara sings. Sister Cristina does just that! You could say that this song was written for her back when she wasn’t born yet.
The audience loved it and sent her to the next step.
Live Show 2: Uno Su Mille (Gianni Morandi cover)
A contest in Italy cannot be without Italian songs. This time it was “Uno Su Mille”, one of the songs with which the famous Gianni Morandi gained success after a faded period. It’s a song about retrieval, which states that you’re complete only if you have faith. The lyrics “You do not know how much it weighs / This soft music” show exactly what Sister Cristina aims to achieve: sending people a soul-uplifting message in an easy to receive way.
Very emotional. So the audience sent her forth.
Live Show 3: Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi cover)
A nun singing rock music? Why not? As long as the message is adequate.
The song is about a young couple that manage to overcome their financial difficulties through love and faith. Sounds familiar? Bon Jovi made it a super hit, but never managed to create such a great impact!
Once more, the audience has shown that they want her in the contest.
Semifinals: (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes cover) + Sally (Vasco Rossi cover)
In English, the pronoun “you” doesn’t differentiate between singular and plural. Thus, a song written for the loved one can become public, for people in general. And because singing is not like writing, “you” can even become “You” – the preferred addressee of a religious person.
As happening in the well-known “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” meant to be a gratitude of the two partners at the end of a romantic evening, Sister Cristina, through her simple interpretation, transforms the song into a different type of gratitude.
The second song in Italian, is about a girl with a beautiful life, but who is going through an existential crisis. Walking the streets, desperate, she finds a glimmer of hope.
Don’t forget that we are now in the semifinals of The Voice of Italy competition. Competition is fierce. J-Ax only voted 45% for Cristina Scuccia. (Maybe he couldn’t resist the temptation to provoke God.) But the audience gave 70.18%, sending her into the finals!
Finals: Gli Anni (883 cover) + Lungo La Riva (new song)
In the first phase of the finals, Sister Cristina sang a duet with her coach, J-Ax, an adaptation of a famous Italian song. A special moment!
More interesting was the interpretation of the song “Lungo La Riva”, composed for her by Neffa. Such great courage to participate in the finals with a song that no one knows! But the exhilarating song with great lyrics (a metaphor of life) quickly caught up.
Having reached the second stage of the finals, Cristina Scuccia performed the song from the blind auditions: “No One” (Alicia Keys cover – who I bet was thrilled). And went on!
In the last stage, she went against Giacomo Voli. Sister Cristina once more performed “Flashdance… What a Feeling”. Yes, it’s about feeling. And what a feeling!
The crowd in front of the TV sets decided: The Voice of Italy is, with 62.30% of votes, Cristina Scuccia!
I don’t know if she had the best vocal technique. I don’t know how many notes she missed. I don’t know what her vocal range is. But it does not matter. Even if from her vocal chords we weren’t hearing the best sound of the contest, an amazing voice sang from the chords of her heart. It’s proof of what an unimaginable force of an act created by a sincere heart could have.
She wasn’t relying on anything. Neither her appearance nor the way she danced nor her unusual appearance (for it’s risky to push your luck, right?), not even her voice, but the irresistible pleasure of singing, of expressing her overwhelming love through what she did best.
I listened to her many times and I watched her carefully trying to figure out what she really wanted from this competition. The answer, as understood by me, is that she rejoiced each time she went on, as if she had already received the prize: a new opportunity to sing in front of the public.
The Result: Like a Virgin (Madonna cover)
Madonna created “Like a Virgin” one of the most sexiest songs of the 80’s and the video – filmed in Venice – is representative for that period.
At the end of the contest, as a prize, Sister Cristina received a contract with Universal Music to make an album. That appeared on November 11, 2014.
The first single from the album is… You Already Know, but You Still Do Not Believe It!
The courage given by her faith made her flip the meaning of the song. Same song, same lyrics, a video also filmed in Venice, partly even in the same places. What is different? The recipient of the message and the attitude. It is the purest evidence of the fact that things or events aren’t what matter, but what we do with them.
After all, even if this wasn’t her exact purpose, Sister Cristina proves that God is not separate from our earthly life, that he can always talk through our worldly songs, as well as he does through scripts. All that matters is that you load love, meaning, and joy into your words.
Now, don’t expect to see her on a tour or in clubs. Sister Cristina continues her monastic life. But music remains an important part of her life and work. And she has plenty of opportunities to pass it on.
This whole incredible story remains a parable. Literally.
What will happen next for Sister Cristina? Only God knows!
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