During Anna Robinson’s time as a volunteer communications associate with Franciscan Mission Service, her community and coworkers were blessed by her many gifts. From dining room jam sessions, to music for Mass, to recordings of original arrangements for our YouTube videos, it was her musical talent in particular that blew us away.

Suffice it to say that we were excited when we heard that our former communications associate had released her first lyrical album earlier this month. Anna did everything from writing the music, playing, recording, to mixing, to producing the acoustic EP.

She’s been writing and playing music since before she could remember, and while she has many musical influences, this album drew particular inspiration from Of Monsters and Men, Allison Krauss, and Whitley.

With its beautiful vocals, catchy melodies, and haunting lyrics that brush on issues of justice, peace, and integrity of creation, we think the album will be a definite favorite for the Franciscan-hearted. We talked to Anna to learn more about the project, and here is what she had to say:

Tell us the story behind the song for which the album is named, “Whisper in the Storm.” Was it inspired by any particular experience(s)?

I was sitting in my bedroom in Washington, D.C. one cold, late-winter evening. I had been reading and listening to a lot of news surrounding what was going on in the world; Syria, climate change, poverty in the city, etc… For whatever reason, it really took a toll on me that evening, and I felt completely helpless and powerless against all of it. So, I sat down with my guitar and began playing. The words just fell out, as if I were talking to someone sitting with me. I’ve found that songwriting is a good way to vent.

What was the inspiration for the song, “The Feather Bell”? What does the name mean?
The Feather Bell was written after I finished reading this book titled, “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. The themes talked about in the song I read about in the book. But I think why I was so moved to write the song was because the book explained so well the passion I felt behind values and a lifestyle I had learned from examples like St. Francis and St. Claire, as well as from experiences I had volunteering on the Pine Ridge reservation and in D.C. The book was just a continuation of this journey, and an instigator for the songwriting process.

The “Feather Bell” refers to this very light calling; the calling I feel to this lifestyle. It can be hard to hear because it’s not over-powering or obnoxious, but once you hear it by grace it’s so sweet you could listen to it all the time and it just brings you peace and joy.

Before your  year in D.C. with FMS, you did a volunteer year at the Red Cloud Indian School, and before that you were a student at Cardinal Stritch University. How have your Franciscan and service experiences influenced this album and your music in general?
It’s hard to say when the journey begins and ends, but I think my most influential path started with my pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy in college. Since then, everything I’ve done has been inspired by what I discovered there. All the service years, the simple living, the desire to learn more about social justice issues, the desire to become my most authentic and human self started with this small time in Franciscan Land, and it’s just grown since. Each place I’ve been since then, the Pine Ridge Reservation, the Sundance Film Institute in Utah, Washington, D.C., and now the Rosebud Reservation, has really driven me to realize how much I care about these things, and how I might be able to bring them out in something so central to who I am: music.

Tell us more about what you’re doing these days.
I am currently living with a prayerful, intentional community in Mission, South Dakota on the Rosebud Reservation. My time is split between volunteering with different organizations, helping with church functions, and writing music. I do shifts at a radio station, help with various youth programs, and run an open mic for adults twice a month.
I really feel like I get to use my gifts in a way that is useful, fulfilling, and fun! I’m especially excited that I get to make time for my musical projects in my schedule, which has been really helpful in seeing if maybe this thing I love can actually turn into something or be sustainable.

What is your hope for this album? What do you hope your listeners will take away from it?
This album was as much for me an experiment as it is just a collection of songs for people to listen and relate to. I’m opening myself up to see how God or people around me might use my musical gift. If anything, this is just a testimony that when you open yourself up to your gifts, add a little patience and some extra education, people will come together. Relationships will grow stronger. I hope that by going through the painful, and stumbling road of creating an album, I have learned more about myself, what I’m capable of doing musically, and that others are able to relate to that road, because we’re all walking on one.

Anna’s six-track album “Whisper in the Storm” is available for immediate download. Also please visit her website, www.arobinsonmusic.com for more music and information.

P.S. – She is also doing the music for our upcoming Christmas reflection video