Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Tajci Concert Rings In True Meaning Of Christmas

By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published December 20, 2007

A lone keyboard produced ambient chords as the lights dimmed and Catholic musician Tajci proceeded down the center aisle to take her place at the front of Our Lady of the Assumption Church.

The calm yet powerful atmosphere was the setting for “Emmanuel – The Story of Christmas,” a performance given every year during Advent by the Croatia-born singer and pianist. Featuring original compositions, classic Christmas carols and more, the Tajci concert told the story of Christmas while blending beautiful, ancient-sounding melodies with the familiarity of this special season of the church.

“Kyrie Eleison,” sung in the traditional Croatian fashion, was Tajci’s first song, and it served as an invocation of the “Divine Master” that established a prayerful and uplifting mood, which continued throughout the evening.

Often reciting the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, Tajci continued the performance by painting the picture of the Holy Family’s long journey to Bethlehem with words, stories and music. “Emmanuel – The Story of Christmas” told of the major events Christians often hear about, such as the Annunciation and the Visitation, but also gave a very human portrayal of the story with smaller details, such as the first time Joseph held the Christ Child.

“The hands that first held Mary’s child were hard from working wood. … That night they gripped no tool of steel, they drove no iron nail, but cradled from the head to heel our Lord, so small and frail,” she sang in her song titled, “The Hands That First Held Mary’s Child.”

Tajci was joined by three musicians, which added to the power and intricacy of the intimate gathering. Denny Bouchard, who has worked with musicians such as John Michael Talbot and Paul Stookey, played a keyboard that produced a wide range of sounds including timpani, strings and piano.

“He is a tremendous artist and also a tremendous person with his love for his family and his faith,” Tajci commented.

Also accompanying Tajci were Larissa Fedoryka and Melanie Fedoryka, two sisters who played cello and violin, adding subtle, intricate vocal harmonies to many of the songs.

In addition to telling the story of Christmas, Tajci and the musicians treated the audience to several Christmas classics including “Silent Night,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “What Child Is This.”

The concert closed with her original composition, “I Do Believe,” as she invited her three sons, Dante, Evan and Blais, to sing with her.

Tajci received a standing ovation as she left the church. In the narthex, she greeted fans and first-timers who expressed their joy and gratitude for her visit.

“It’s very difficult to find an equivalent place that would be as inspiring,” she said, commenting on performing in churches. “Here you are allowed to go inward. Where else do you do (that)? Even music halls, they get to be too big, and then you lose that intimacy.”

Tajci, whose given name is Tatjana Matejas, grew in up communist Croatia. From an early age she was exposed to music and was eventually admitted to the Croatian Music Conservatory where she studied with a focus on classical piano. Her worldwide fame began when she was 19 with the release of her song, “Hajde da Ludujemo” (“Let’s Go Crazy”).

She recorded several albums, many of them reaching platinum and diamond status, but this fame eventually brought a sense of isolation and emptiness. At the age of 21, she left her fame and stardom and came to the United States.

At a retreat house in Los Angeles, she met her future husband, Matthew Cameron. He encouraged her to share her journey from fame to anonymity to spiritual healing through music, and during the last several years, the couple has provided numerous opportunities for fans to experience God, and Tajci’s journey, through her music.

“For me, music was always my connection to the divine,” said Tajci. “Before I was a believer, music was my instrument that could lift me up, it could heal my soul, it could make my heart happy. Even if I performed it, I saw that I could then offer healing, I could offer joy. … That element is why I am a singer and a musician.”