I got the music in me

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Bagpipes? Yes. Traditional Irish ballad? Yes. Football anthem? Yes. Prayerful meditation? Yes. Rap? Yes.


Those musical styles are part of the Spirit of Notre Dame collection, which includes a Reflections CD of soulful tunes and a Celebration CD of upbeat songs. Produced by the piano-playing O’Neill Brothers, Tim ’94 and Ryan ’97, the set features 33 songs performed by members of the Notre Dame family.

The project, commissioned for the Spirit of Notre Dame campaign, started with a request by the O’Neills in autumn of 2000 for ND students and alumni to send “radio-ready” CDs and tapes for the album.

“I was thinking it would be fun to do,” says Tim O’Neill. Then the deluge began. “I personally listened to 1,200 songs,” he says. “It turned into like two years of a full-time project.”

In selecting songs, he says, “I really tried to capture different decades.” He also captured different styles, from the “O Magnum Mysterium” chant, which includes a prayer by University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., to the bluegrass “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries,” performed by Edward S. Thomas Jr. ’58, the traditional Irish lullaby “Too Rah Loo Rah Loo Rah” sung by Regis Philbin ’53 and the “Warriors” rap by the musical duo of Santiago X The Natural (Lawrence Santiago ’05 and Jeffery Stephens ’07).

The CDs’ liner notes offer the stories behind the songs. “The Mermaid,” for instance, was a song contributed by Kevin Short ’78J.D. in honor of his deceased classmate, John Cotter, while Rudy Hornish ’59 wrote “A Galway Farewell” in memory of his mother, with whom he often sang old Irish songs. Inspired by Notre Dame’s halftime TV commercials, singer-songwriter Emily Lord ’96 recorded “What Are You Fighting For?”

Spirit of Notre Dame is available at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore or at pianobrothers.com/Music/SpiritNotreDame/.