Two Voices, One Heart

Two Voices, One Heart

Faith, music and more bind together JoJo and Ann Marie David

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

He's vocal coach for the BC bOp! student jazz group, and music director at Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Newton Center.

"Our music is a ministry, a perfect marriage of our talents and vocation," says BC bOp! vocal coach JoJo David, shown here with wife Ann Marie, an associate minister at BC. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

She's Boston College's new associate minister for liturgical arts, who before arriving at BC this fall, sang and played piano at Masses for shoppers and Boston Marathon runners at the Catholic chapel in the Prudential Center.

JoJo and Anne Marie David are one couple who indeed do make beautiful music together.

Considering their shared experience of the past two years, in which JoJo David overcame long odds to triumph over cancer, the songs of praise they offer to God are all the more moving.

"It feels like a gift," said Anne Marie David. "Every day is gone into with gratitude. It's been a full year of recovery, and a lot of changes happening. Serendipitous is the right word."

JoJo has made an apparent full recovery from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after undergoing a life-saving bone-marrow transplant last year.

In the course of treatment for the disease, discovered in 1998 after he lost his singing voice, JoJo underwent nine bouts of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments in addition to the bone-marrow transplant.

Friends formed e-mail prayer circles in his behalf, and staged a benefit concert at St. Ignatius Church in Chestnut Hill, where he and Anne Marie were active in music ministry.

He reflected on the experience as he sat at the piano in Trinity Chapel on Newton Campus last week, his wife by his side in a picture of bliss that might have seemed unimaginable a year-and-a-half ago.

"Given what we just came through, we're just happy to be up and around," said JoJo. "We're doing what we love, and doing it together. That's where our values are placed. Boston College offers the chance to do it.

"When I was struck by illness, the singers and the Band Department lived through the experience with me, and BC and St. Ignatius supported us through our odyssey," JoJo said.

"The fact we've come through to the other side, and they're still here with us, makes the music that much better."

The two met eight years ago as students at Berklee College of Music, where both sang in the concert choir. Anne Marie had been named music director at St. Francis Chapel, just around the corner in the Prudential Center, and one night at choir practice had issued a call for volunteers to sing at Mass.

"The only one out of the entire choir who stayed afterward to talk to me was JoJo," she recalled.

The Pru chapel run by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary order attracted shoppers, conventioneers, and around Boston Marathon time, scores of runners. "On race day, we would sing, 'We Shall Run and Not Grow Weary,'" Anne Marie said, with a laugh.

She left the Prudential Center this fall to take a part-time post at BC, helping Music Ministries Coordinator Kate Leavey oversee performances of sacred music at University Masses and special services.

Anne Marie will take part in the Baccalaureate Mass at 5 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Trinity Chapel, and join the Liturgy Arts Group in caroling in the Mods during finals week.

Her association with BC is one of longer standing, however, reaching back 10 years, when as a Berklee student she played Sunday night Masses on Newton Campus.

Laetitia Blain, then director of music ministries at BC, said she initially thought she'd be doing the young music student from Minnesota a favor by hiring her to play.

"She comes into my office, lovely and sweet, and played 'On Eagles Wings,'" recalled Blain. "She has this beautiful, flowing, lyrical style, and was totally transformed at the piano as an artist. I said, 'Praise God!' We've used her ever since."

Anne Marie also leads the contemporary music at the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Newton Corner. JoJo led the music at the children's Mass at St. Ignatius Church before accepting the music-director post at Sacred Heart Church in September. "We kind of have Newton covered," Anne Marie said, with a laugh.

"Our music is a ministry," said JoJo, "a perfect marriage of our talents and vocation."


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