How was your experience as part of Gen Verde?

It is impossible to summarize in a few words my experience in Gen Verde. One thing I can say is that I am deeply grateful to God for having given me that unexpected opportunity which has enriched me so much, which formed me not only spiritually but also humanly.

The Gen Verde band (Joy second from the left on the row below)
The Gen Verde band (Joy second from the left on the row below)

For me, apart from the daily exercises of singing, playing various musical instruments, composing, producing shows and CD’s, most of all, there was the daily exercise in the Art of Loving. It meant to learn how to be the first to love, how to practise mutual love, being ready to give our lives for each other as a premise before beginning any kind of artistic work, “mastering” the game of knowing how to give up one’s idea and how to lose… whether I was writing a song or cooking lunch, performing on stage before thousands of spectators or loading and unloading our equipment in trucks.

Being often on tour, not only in Europe but also on other continents, it meant meeting people from all walks of life, of all ages, and all cultural backgrounds. One fantastic discovery is how music, apart from being an expression of art, is a universal language. It is communication – not only in the sense of transmitting content but also and most of all, in the sense of helping others to participate, enabling people to be in communion with one another. It was to experience how the evangelical values of brotherhood, love, sharing which are written in the DNA of every man and woman of the world, regardless of the race, religion or beliefs they profess.

Can you share with us your memorable moments as part of this international band?

One of the many unforgettable moments for me was when we performed before Pope John
Paul II who came to the Center of the Movement in Rocca di Papa, Rome, almost unexpectedly and we performed before him, just for him … I remember, in that garden, on that one special starry night (of course, there was Chiara Lubich and all members of the Movement who were able to come). There was such a strong atmosphere of simplicity and sacredness at the same time.


There were several other occasions where we had sung before him, having been called to perform, to name a few, at the World Youth Days, the international Genfests, Pentecost 1998 event where more than two hundred thousand people, belonging to some fifty ecclesial movements and new communities, had gathered in Rome from every corner of
the world for a much awaited appointment with the Pope.

Another memorable moment was the interreligious event in Assisi in 2011, performing before Pope Benedict XVI and the various heads and representatives of Churches, ecclesial communities and world religions.

In October 2004 an extraordinary experience was the two-month tour of Gen Verde in the main cities of Japan promoted and organized by the Japanese Buddhist movement Rissho Kosei-kai. It was a precious occasion to develop those deep bonds of brotherhood started by Chiara Lubich with their founder Nikkyo Niwano.

Aside from the numerous extraordinary events in different parts of the world where our band gave its contribution to building bridges among peoples, we cannot forget how precious also was the possibility, whenever and wherever given the chance, to go to the prisons, to do a concert for those who live in slum areas, to reach out to that part of humanity that are suffering.

It had been a formidable experience to see how it is possible to establish a 360° dialogue with everyone. Of course, this requires our daily commitment to live out, our own message, both individually and collectively. A precious key we have is that of “starting again”, of “starting now” in every present moment, whenever we make mistakes, whenever we fail.

And we often saw that if it is love for God, love among us, love for the others that motivates us to sing, to dance, then God himself is at work. It is He among us who establishes the dialogue, who touches hearts, who makes of us – no matter where we come from, no matter what our differences are – one Family.

Your song ‘Queen of Love’ is loved by many Filipinos. What is the inspiration, the story behind this song? The inspiration? The story behind this song?

It was the “discovery” of what lies behind the statue or statues of Our Lady that I often took for granted, behind the prayers recited as I learned them since I was a child, a discovery that there was much, much more beyond the statues, the novenas, no matter how beautiful they may be.

For instance, when it dawned upon me that Mary is a mother who loves me personally, that she is always with me, that I can call on her anytime …. My “old”, limited idea or knowledge of her changed. I began to realize and understand how she is a queen because she always served out of love; she always moved stepped aside, like a shadow, so that her Son could shine.

She always listened to God’s voice and followed His will, and she knew what suffering meant, even in the darkest moments, she did not abandon God…. She who is called the Queen of all Saints, of all the Angels, and of all the Apostles… I felt how that that phrase “Queen of Love” was not just a title. I felt in my heart that it was something real. This “Queen of Love”… also loves me… a nobody…and personally!

So, this was behind that spontaneous desire to express in song the love, the awe, and tenderness of her love that I experienced in that moment.

The music and lyrics of Joy’s “Queen of Love” has been a source of great inspiration for many Marian devotees. Below are the lyrics of this song.

Oh, how I long to sing you a song of love
to describe the warmth of your smile,
the pureness of your heart.
O Mary, our Queen of Love, our way to the loving Son, Our beautiful way to the loving Son.
When I’m happy you’re there to share it with me.
When I’m grieving, I can call and you console me.
Oh, how I long to sing you a song of love
to express the happiness that’s deep within my heart.
O Mary, our Queen of Love, our way to the loving Son
Oh, teach us to follow you.

Interview by Jose Aranas

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