"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law."
Songs and stories from
Benevenuto! Io mi chiamo RaffaelaMarie Rizzo.
Yes. That's my name. It's a long name, but everyone loves saying it (Raf-eye-ela), and pronounce Rizzo like "pizza," a hard "t" sound made by the double "z."
It all started when I was five. The Italian immigrant population in Connecticut is where I grew up, socialized around music at home, at weddings, baptisms, and confirmations. Whether it was the Italian masters on the Victrola, Jazz, and Pop on the radio, or sitting at mass intoxicated by the organ and music from Tallis to Palestrina to Mozart to Messiaen at mass every Sunday. Music and songs have always indescribably elevated me.
I have always felt I was born to sing, and the passion and intensity of music permeate my soul. From that time of my first awareness of a love greater than can ever be imagined, I have been flooded with the overwhelming need to give praise and thanks to God through song.
Often without realizing it, I'd find myself stirred to make audible the gratitude I feel for God's unconditional love and mercy. But I'm so lacking that even my husband will not sit next to me at mass if I attempt to express praise through song. It is clear that songs such as O Holy Night, O solo Mio, Funiculi Funicula, the Ave Maria, and Ode to Joy are for me to appreciate and enjoy, but best left to others with melodious and velvet throats to bring to life.
At some point, many decades after the age of five, I recognized that God had given me other methods to express love and praise. Though not bestowed with beauty in my vocal cords, I am, however, grateful for all my gifts, most especially the ability to tell stories, and I have lots of them. My stories have their roots in the land of the Mezzogiorno and bridge to our great United States of America. They are joyful songs comprised of humble words. I hope they will strike a chord within you as together we explore some parts of Italy that most tourists never see. I hope that you'll learn another side of these people, their culture and traditions that, when imported, they helped weave some of the most intricate and exquisite textures comprising the fabric of the American culture and language.
Making paper with artistic methods and traditions passed through the generations; the old way - Amalfi, Italy