Written by Karen Mahoney,
Special to your Catholic Herald Thursday, 21 January 2010 15:19
A tall order, but one that caused Eric Smyth to push back from the dinner table, look at his three young daughters and realize that they felt an intimacy with God for which he was searching.
“I wondered how we could pray for everyone in the world; I wanted to be a little more specific,” said Smyth, 49, of Grayslake, Ill. “But that’s how we started and it really changed my life.”
Smyth enjoyed a successful 11-year dental career, but burned out from his six-day-a-week schedule, he sold his thriving practice to pursue his dream of songwriting.
|Jan. 22, 2010 is the 37th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Since that court decision, more than 50 million lives have been ended through abortion. |
Although he was baptized Catholic, his family did not practice any formal religion. Despite that, he attended Loyola University on what he calls a “lark,” occasionally attended Mass and listened to the homilies.
“Those worked on me a little,” he admitted. “I went to some reach out sessions, but truthfully, after I got busy with my practice, I forgot about it.”
Along the way, he began writing songs on the side, and one afternoon in 2008, came home from work, and told his wife Rosie that he was selling his practice to write songs.
“She said I was crazy, but maybe was crazy for the right reasons,” he said. “I went to Nashville and learned how to write songs. In 2002, I lost my father. I was the only one in the room when he died. It was so moving and it led me to write a song. I realized that I never wanted to make money writing hokey little songs, so I prayed right then that I would write good songs. I began to believe more – I always knew there was a God, but I became committed to church and began leading the family to church.”
After attending RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes, he entered the church in 2006, and joined his wife’s church, St. Paul Parish, Grayslake.
Pondering his daughter’s request to pray for everyone in the world, he wrote the words to a song titled “Prayers Raining Down.” For the first time in his life, Smyth knew God was calling him to a path far different from his plans to become a Nashville recording star.
“It was a strong hope song; it tugged at my heart and I knew it had a great melody and would be a great song,” he said. “I was hoping that Martina McBride would do it. God pulled me to lead my life to goodness and that was my kick in the butt. RCIA opened my eyes to the blessings of having a loving Catholic wife who never begged me to go to church. She was sharp enough to approach life in a gentle and loving way.”
While “Prayers Raining Down” offered a message of hope, another issue relentlessly tugged at his heart and he knew that God was leading him to write songs that embraced life.
“I was always a pro-lifer and had a bumper sticker on my car about abortion. I was thinking about these youth who are not getting the life message. There are 14-year-old kids who would rather abort their babies than put them up for adoption; the message is not getting out there,” he said. “One night I sat at the piano – I usually practice in the dark when the kids are sleeping. All of a sudden, a title ran across my forehead, ‘Let your little one live.’ The melody came running through, too, and that one song moved me around and got me to where I am at.”
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“Eric has a great musical talent and the song is a lovely recording with the talented singer Tammy Pierce singing the words,” said Lyons. “It is quite well done and we created a video presentation to go along with the song. It was very well received by everyone who heard the song and watched the presentations.”
The piece was a catalyst for additional songs espousing life issues, and using his music to open the door, he speaks to teens and young adults on a variety of topics such as life, chastity and morality.
“I want to give them concrete things to think about such as their state and how to glorify God with their bodies,” he said. “I can carry the message and know how to connect with them. I want them to be encouraged to go out and be great beacons of light for their friends as a life affirming resource. My music gives me the red carpet to do this.”
While some might think that giving up a $190,000-a-year career in order to earn $10,000 a year writing music might be crazy, Smyth is not concerned because he knows that God is caring for him, his wife, three daughters and infant son.
“I still write a little pop music, but it has to be clean,” he said. “No trashy tunes and whatever I write has to be acceptable in God’s eyes. I pray and ask God to give me the words and melodies for pro-life songs. I know I have to feed my family, but we live frugally and my wife is with me on this.