Janet Mead (born 1938, Adelaide, South Australia) is a Roman Catholic nun and is best known for recording a rock version of "The Lord's Prayer". The surprise hit reached Number 3 on the Australian Singles Chart (Kent Music Report) in 1974 and Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the same year. The single earned her a Grammy Award nomination and Golden Gospel Award in 2004.
Mead became the second woman to have a top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while serving as a nun. Sister Luc-Gabrielle (Jeanine Deckers), also known as Sœur Sourire and The Singing Nun, had a Number 1 pop hit in 1963 with "Dominique".
Life and career[edit | edit source]
Mead formed a rock band simply called The Rock Band when she was 17 to provide music for the weekly Mass at her local church. She studied piano at the Elder Conservatorium before joining the Sisters of Mercy order and became a music teacher at two local Catholic schools. She began to explore the "Rock Mass" concept in the early 1970s, desiring to make the Mass more interesting and accessible for her students. This led to a successful series of "Rock Masses" which she conducted at Adelaide Cathedral.
Mead began making professional recordings of her music for schools and churches in 1973. Later that year, she went to Sydney for a recording session with Festival Records produced by Martin Erdman.
Festival asked her to record a cover of the Donovan song "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" which had been written for the soundtrack of the Franco Zeffirelli film of the same name, but Martin Erdman wanted to record a rock arrangement of "The Lord's Prayer" to serve as the B-side and so a one-hit wonder was born. The single became the first Australian recording to sell over one million copies in the United States, earning a gold record award for Mead and Martin Erdman. Mead donated her share of the royalties to charity while Festival Records used their portion of the proceeds to refit one of their studios
The phenomenal success of the single led to the recording of an album. It was With You I Am, which hit No. 19 in July 1974. Her second album, A Rock Mass, was a complete recording of one of her now famous Rock Masses. She slipped onto the United States' charts once more with the follow-up single, "Take My Hand", but never approached the immense success of her debut.
Being humble and media-shy, Mead resisted the call to continue her pop career, despite intense media interest. She now describes the record's success as a "horrible time" in her life — worldwide success brought a pressure that led her to question her faith. Her third album, recorded in 1983, was filed away in the Festival vaults after Mead withdrew from the public eye.The tapes were rediscovered by Martin Erdman and some tracks, including a new version of "The Lord's Prayer", were included on the 1999 album A Time To Sing. The album was released as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the hit single.
Mead did not abandon her love of music and performance and has returned to the arts in recent years. In October 2001, she directed the Romero Company's annual production at the Melbourne Trades Hall Auditorium, an inventive adaptation by Damien Mead ofVictor Hugo's Les Misérables.
In 2004, Mead received the Yamaha Golden Gospel Award in recognition of her services to Australian Christian music at the Australian Gospel Music Awards in Canberra. Martin Erdman also received the Yamaha Golden Gospel Award concurrently and presented a short feature film, Sister Janet Mead, at these awards which were coordinated by the Australian Gospel Music Association.
Mead has also recorded a record with the conservative charismatic religious movement known as the Romero Community.