Having conquered Italy, can singing sensation Sister Cristina take over the world?
In 2014, the twentysomething Ursuline Sister Cristina Scuccia wowed her native land — and many other lands, via social media — by winning The Voice of Italy. Upon her victory, she thanked God and recited The Lord’s Prayer.
Now, the little sister with the big pop voice is taking on American TV and a panel of international judges on CBS’ new Wednesday-night reality-competition show. The World’s Best. Here’s how CBS describes it:
Hosted by James Corden, The World’s Best is a first-of-its-kind global talent competition that features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet. They not only have to impress the all-star line-up of American judges Drew Barrymore, RuPaul Charles, and Faith Hill, but the acts will also need to break through the “wall of the world,” featuring 50 of the world’s most accomplished experts from every field of entertainment. Only one act will ultimately be crowned The World’s Best.
At the recent biannual TV Critics Association Press Tour, series executive producer Ben Winston said:
Whenever you find somebody who you feel like is a discovery, I think that it feels really good, and you’re excited to put them on our maybe more prestigious stage and give them an opportunity of winning a million quid. I think that’s a very exciting thing.
Sister Cristina has shown a talent for taking secular pop songs and infusing them with new meaning. Previously, she took on Like a Virgin, by lapsed Catholic Madonna. In her audition for The World’s Best, she went with Born This Way, by Lady Gaga (who, despite professing some views at odds with Church doctrine, identifies as Catholic).
Take a look and listen:
In advance of her next appearance on the show on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, I did an interview with Sister Cristina via email (since she doesn’t speak English). The show’s publicist proclaimed, “My goodness I am in love and inspired by Sister Cristina even more after reading her responses.” I think you may feel the same way. (Lightly edited for grammar and clarity.)
We all saw you wow the world by winning The Voice in Italy. Did you achieve what you wanted to when you first decided to participate?
I was invited by the production to make an audition at The Voice of Italy, and so I was sent by my Superiors to take part in it. At that time, I did not know what to expect exactly. In fact, this experience had such great resonances that all of this could only be possible through God’s hand. The purpose of my participation in The Voice of Italy was to announce a God close to people and above all. A God who does not take anything away but rather gives a hundred times as much. A God who makes us beautiful inside and out and who, for love, pushes us to make unthinkable experiences, as in my case was that of The Voice of Italy, and moreover to tell everyone that today it is possible for a young girl to leave everything in order to follow Jesus and to love Him for life!
What have been the best and worst parts of the fame that came after?
I must confess that I was not at all ready to welcome so much fame in a very short time. Indeed, in the first period I suffered a lot, because I felt that my private life was being taken away from me. I was followed by paparazzi everywhere I went and, frankly, it was not a pleasant feeling to feel followed and “spied” everywhere. In all this, however, the best thing has always been to be recognized on the street by young people, and consequently this meeting was a reason for dialogue with a generation that may struggle to believe in God and therefore in a consecrated person!
What are your goals in taking on another singing competition?
Actually, I do not live, and it would not be right to live, a so beautiful experience as a competition, even if it is; I believe that if I lived it as such, I could not fully live my call to this “special mission” that God has placed me along my path. These moments represent opportunities for me to witness the love of Christ that once welcomed into our lives, can make them wonderful and can lead on paths completely unknown to us.
I think it’s important to use vehicles like music, like a talent as in this case, or in general all the channels that are of interest for young people, in order to launch and leave important messages of love, because the world needs true love and it is up to each of us to sow love.
The Church is beset with many issues and problems these days — how do you think your visibility and success are helping?
The truth is that all I do is just a drop in the ocean, but what pushes me to continue are the testimonies of hearts “saved” by love: many people write and reach out to me to thank me for having opened their hearts.
Obviously, I am only a means, I am only a collaborator of Christ and I believe that in some way looking at the Church, perhaps even through this mission of mine, that pushes itself towards new paths of Evangelization, can help to shorten the distances and perhaps lead more souls to Christ (that is my main mission)!
What’s your message to young Catholics seeing you and hearing you?
God is Love, and He loves us madly! If we abandon ourselves to Him, He can make us better and perform wonderful works through our lives!
Why did you pick Born This Way to sing at the show? What does it mean to you?
Born This Way deals with the theme of diversity, and, in my opinion, it is important to remind everyone that despite being different, we are as precious as we are, because God does not make mistakes with anyone, exactly as the song says. We live in one evolved society that often tends to make differences and exclusions due to life choices or simply because the other is different from us.
Instead it is good to remember how diversity can only be an instrument of enrichment towards one another, can serve to build a more colorful world where everyone can bring his own color and we should not be scared of them!
Lady Gaga has a Catholic background — if you haven’t met her yet, what would you most like to talk to her about?
Lady Gaga is one of my favorite artists, and what strikes me, and I mostly like of her, in addition to her extraordinary artistic skills, is the courage with which she shows her great humanity. If only one day I had the honor to meet and talk to her, first I should contain the emotions and then I would ask her for advice and ideas to make the message of love that I carry everywhere through music even stronger (artistically speaking) and accessible to everyone (not only those who believe in God)!
How are you balancing your Ursuline life and your showbiz life?
It is my belief that all I do is prayer and has a missionary nature so that there are no contradictions between my being consecrated and the living of an experience in the world of entertainment. Wherever I go, I’m always accompanied by another sister of mine; we try to bring Jesus even through our presence.
The encounter with Christ does not close us in ourselves but opens us to others and to new life experiences, so we accepted Pope Francis’ invitation to open the doors of our convent and go out, go into the world to reach all those places where the love of Christ has not been known yet.
What is your message to all young people about the value of faith?
Faith is a special gift that is often thought to belong only to elderly people or to people that always goes to church, or that concerns only priests and nuns, but it is not so: we all need to quench our heart thirst for pure love.
Therefore I invite all young people to seek true happiness, not in ephemeral things, but in the search for their own truth in the following of love par excellence: Jesus. Only by entrusting our lives, our dreams, all that we are and we have to Him, we then will find peace within us; and, at the same time, we will discover outside of us a world full of light that we would never have thought to meet.
Just imagine what Sister Cristina and the Ursulines can do with the show’s $1M prize. Deo Gratias!
Find Sister Cristina’s official website here. The World’s Best airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
And you can follow her on Twitter: