Behind the Music: Get to Know Catholic Composer Francesca LaRosa
Francesca LaRosa, a Catholic composer and singer/songwriter, desires to glorify the Lord and serve His Church through her ministry
Francesca LaRosa, a Catholic composer and singer/songwriter, who desires to glorify the Lord and serve His Church through her ministry. Her prayerful music, particularly her Psalms project, brings the listeners in an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Word of God Himself.
Francesca's beautiful music will be featured in Pietra Fitness’ forthcoming prenatal video fitness series. We had the pleasure to interview Francesca to help you get to know the woman behind the music.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into music and get started with your ministry?
I am a Catholic composer, and I write music for word-for-word Psalms to be used during the liturgy. I have been setting the Psalms to music through deep discernment and prayer. I write a lot of those with my mom and my husband, and I really enjoy serving the Lord in that way.
I grew up in Indianapolis and started playing the piano when I was four. When I was nine, I began to play the piano with my dad at Mass. We had a family worship band–my sisters would sing, my dad and uncle played guitar, I played piano, my brothers and cousins ran sound, and my aunt played bass. We always loved to worship the Lord together as a family.
I studied music education at Ball State University; I thought I was going to be a teacher or a missionary after graduating, but instead, I was offered the job as music director at the parish where I grew up. It was such an honor to serve there for 3 ½ years before feeling called to pursue my music.
I thought 2020 was going to be my year to really pursue my music dream (laughs). I was leading a girls’ choir for the archdiocese when the pandemic hit and all of that stopped. During that time my husband and I began dealing with infertility, and I wasn’t really able to write or sing anymore. I stopped writing lyrics; I was really struggling.
It was a really difficult time for me. I started composing instrumental piano pieces because I wanted to help people overcome their own suffering. I started an instrumental piano channel called ‘Keys of Peace,’ where I wrote songs for people battling cancer, people struggling with infertility, people struggling with miscarriage, people struggling to just hang on. I wrote a piano song everyday and prayed for these people—that was my ministry.
I was super honored that my Keys of Peace ministry got taken up by the Hallow app and Pietra Fitness, and I was amazed at how the Lord could work through my own suffering. Praying through [my suffering] and focusing on other people in my brokenness helped me out of that difficult time and led me into my Psalm ministry. I started releasing my Psalms every week, and now I compose music full-time.
I’m incredibly blessed that my husband is a music producer, and together, we write and create music for the Church. Doing ministry together as a couple is such a blessing!
What drew you to the Psalms? How did you get started with that particular project in your music?
I grew up singing at Mass, and we always used the Psalm of the day. Some of these were word-for-word from the Lectionary, but starting in high school, my parish really started using the exact Psalm of the day, and many times it was in chanted-verse form.
As beautiful as they were, I had never been introduced to chant before, so as a composer my mom told me “I think you can write one of these.” I said: “I don’t know how to write a Psalm. I write songs not Psalms.”
She told me to close my eyes, and she began reading the Scripture over my hands and praying over me. Through her prayer I heard these melodies of how these psalms would go.
I really feel like they are melodies from heaven. I write them with metered verses but also with chanted verses as well; I am writing my own chant now. I have really fallen in love with the Psalms because they hit on every single human emotion. It’s such a beautiful chapter of the Bible, and I especially love it because Jesus prayed the Psalms. I find it to be a powerful experience to say the same prayers as our Lord.
How has praying the Psalms helped your spiritual life?
As Catholics we hear the scriptures at Mass but I feel like I don’t know the scriptures that well. I feel like I know music well but I never felt like I knew the Word of God.
I have friends who know the Bible by heart who can verbalize different chapters of the Bible at a moment’s notice; they quote Scripture, love Scripture, and live it. I desire that for myself. To dive into the Scriptures with my mom has been a brand new, powerful experience for me.
I love being Catholic because I deeply love the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Another gift from heaven is God’s Word - Scripture. I want to focus on both gifts because Jesus is the Word made flesh. I think we need to know it better.
We have a lot of resources for learning and knowing Scripture in 2022, like the Bible in a Year Podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz; I think we are finding ways to live out Scripture in a deeper way, and to be a part of that is such an honor.
Do you have a favorite Psalm?
I don’t want to be cliché and say Psalm 91, but it’s so powerful to me: ‘Be with me Lord when I am in trouble – You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty, Say to the LORD, ‘My refuge, my rock, my God in whom I trust’. It’s such a powerful passage the Lord has given us– to think about being with Him when I am in trouble… That’s so comforting.
I also love Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want and Psalm 51: Create in me a clean heart, O God. Have mercy on me , O God in your goodness in your compassion wipe out my offense.
I love so many of them. One of my favorites is Psalm 18: I love you Lord my strength. That one is like a love story to me. There’s not a lot of Psalms that say “I love you Lord”; many ask for help in times of struggle! But to go back to the Lord and say I love you…I like that one a lot.
Those are the ones that stick out to me.
Where can people find you and your music online?
You can check out my music on Youtube and Spotify. It is also available on my website along with sheet music if you are a musician or a singer. You can also support my and my husband’s mission on Patreon.