With a history of pro-life involvement that dates back to picketing outside abortuaries with her parents as a youngster, it’s only natural that Christian musician and Juno Award nominee Janelle Reinhart – who goes by the stage name of simply Janelle – would now be performing at pro-life conferences and events such as the U.S. and Canadian National Marches for Life.
The Alberta native and resident was in Washington this past January, singing for a pep rally in front of young people from St. Louis, Mo. just prior to the March for Life there. She’s also scheduled to be in Ottawa this coming May for the same event on the Canadian side of the border.
Singing for the St. Louis youth “was exciting and gave me a lot of hope,” Janelle said in an interview with The Interim the same day in which her album Livin’ for Something was officially announced as a nominee in this year’s Juno Awards in Halifax on April 2. It’s up for contemporary Christian/gospel album of the year.
“Some think young people don’t care what’s happening, but there were 2,000 young people from St. Louis who were on fire, had their heads screwed on straight and wanted to see Christ’s kingdom prevail in this life,” she says. “It was really encouraging.”
Participation in the Rock for Life organization is another facet of Janelle’s pro-life activity, which sometimes sees her bring her three-year-old son Eric onstage to entertain the audience.
“I usually do a few songs, give a few messages on pro-life, sing the song Amazing from my latest album and then tell the story of how my husband Jason and I couldn’t conceive, but God granted us the miracle of Eric … He comes onstage, where we have a little electric guitar and drumset. Everybody loves that – it’s a great crowd pleaser. It’s a great witness to life and he’s just a ball of energy and a real performer, even at three.”
A pro-life commitment, says Janelle, “is very much part of who I am and what I stand for. Any time I get a chance to work with such (pro-life) groups, it’s always a real honour for me.”
Janelle was raised in a strongly Catholic home and started singing in church and for weddings, funerals and town fairs from her earliest years. At 12, she made a demonstration recording and at 14, joined a praise and worship band as lead singer.
Things broke open with World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, where she was invited to sing the theme song live, as well as in French on the official CD. She released her first CD, New Day, around the same time to an enthusiastic response from listeners and also gave birth to her son Eric.
“We weren’t sure whether God would allow us to keep going with the baby, but Eric’s proved to be very flexible. So we’ve continued touring and doing concerts,” she says.
Pursuing a career as a Christian musician in Canada has not been without its challenges. The primitiveness of the Christian music industry here, as well as the long distances between major cities, make it a daunting task for an artist to organize a cross-country, or even a regional, tour. But Janelle and Jason have persevered.
“I have a real heart for Canada and what God is doing in Canada,” she says. “I’m up for the challenge. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to work with my husband, who is also my manager. He’s absolutely brilliant in thinking of big visions. We also have a great team we work with.”
Janelle counts as career highlights performing for figures including Pope John Paul II and the Queen of England, as well as serving as opening act in Regina for leading Christian musician Michael W. Smith. Past tours have taken her across Canada and the U.S., as well as to New Zealand. She is starting a new Canada-wide tour March 10, which will run through to April 12, and has been invited to Rome and Brazil for future performances.
Apart from performing, Janelle’s future plans include the writing of books, including one about the unique story she and Jason share in not being able to conceive a child until God blessed them with Eric. “This ties into a song on my new album called Amazing,” she says. “It’s a pro-life song about a child being born.”
She also hopes to make an impact on the secular music scene in a crossover fashion because, as she says, “Christ is for everyone, not just those who know him … God is doing some big things across the world and we’re just really privileged He’s allowed us to take part in that.”
Anyone interested in having Janelle perform at an event, or in ordering her two CDs Livin’ for Something and New Day (or the single, Be Not Afraid, in honour of the late Pope John Paul II) can contact Life-VisionCommunications Inc., 5009 – 48 Street, P.O. Box 238, Radway, Alta., T0A 2V0. Telephone: 1-866-286-5433. E-mail: email@example.com. Her website is at www.janelle.cc.
Janelle says a key part of her ministry is helping fire up young people for the Christian and pro-life cause. “I’ve found young people, when they find a mission or a cause worth fighting for, really sink their teeth into it and get gung ho. Pro-life is one of those causes. You can see it’s something worth fighting for.”