Sister Cristina: 8 Questions With Italy’s ‘Voice’-Winning Singing Nun About Madonna, Kylie Minogue And Her Debut Album
Sister Cristina Scuccia captured her home country’s heart earlier this year as a contestant on The Voice Of Italy, which she won. The 26-year-old nun from Comisa, Sicily, then set about recording her self-titled debut album for Universal (grab it on iTunes), and raised eyebrows across the globe with her surprising but beautiful cover of Madonna’s 1984 hit “Like A Virgin.” Current YouTube views for her rendition of the song stand at just over 4 million since it’s late-October premiere.
“I have to say that I didn’t think of song’s past,” Sister Cristina tells us upon her first visit to New York, during which she hit up Idolator’s office. “I just looked at the song itself. The version that I was listening to was the Amos Lee one. I read the lyrics and it felt so close to my experience, because they say I was defeated and I was sad, then you touched me and I became larger than life. So the same thing happened when God touched my heart.”
Head below to catch our full interview with Sister Cristina about her debut album, and the pop songs she chose for it.
People outside of Italy might have missed the fact that you actually performed “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” on The Voice earlier this year with Kylie Minogue. Did she give you any artist-to-artist advice? SISTER CRISTINA: It was a unique and once in a lifetime experience! The day when we went live, everybody was so anxious. The other four girls and I rehearsed the choreography all afternoon with her. She was so nice and kind, and even fixed the choreography. It was actually choreography by Timor, Madonna’s significant other. So I worked with him for six months.
You chose to audition for The Voice with Alicia Keys’ “No One.” Does that song have a personal significance for you? SC: I chose “No One” because it was one of the best songs that I could perform. I love Alicia Keys. The lyrics of the song, “No one makes me feel that way,” make me think of God.
What was the initial reaction from the church when you decided to take part in The Voice? SC: The experience came out from my superiors. They decided that I should go, so there was a support for that. Then I also met with Cardinal Ravasi, who is very close to the Pope. He is like his right hand, and he also told me that he supported it. It all came out of something that Pope Francis said: “To come out of your comfort zone, go out in the uncomfortable places and announce the gospel.”
Personally, how nervous were you to go on television and do this? SC: I was not aware of what was going on. I was out of it! With the second [episode], I started feeling the responsibility on my shoulders. It became heavier and heavier. I had no idea that I could actually go for a second round, and I was not prepared for what was going to happen. I was so full of emotions, I was thrilled and worried. I was actually hoping that every time would be the last time, because it was something bigger than me. It’s not that I wasn’t happy to be there, but I was becoming more frightened and anxious.
And then you won! SC: I did win, and for that I want to thank the people who took in the message that somebody sent for me. Because it wasn’t me they were voting for — they were voting for the message.
You interpreted Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” in your own way, and covered the song on your album. Did you anticipate any controversy by doing so? SC: No, I have to say that I didn’t think of song’s past. I just looked at the song itself. The version that I was listening to was the Amos Lee one. I read the lyrics and it felt so close to my experience, because they say I was defeated and I was sad, then you touched me and I became larger than life. So the same thing happened when God touched my heart. Many people tell their love stories, so why can’t us religious people tell ours? I felt it was like a prayer. I read it with the purity that was in my eyes and my heart. That’s what I tried to convey with the video, this idea of a prayer.
Were you the one personally choosing covers for your album, like Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”? SC: I chose the songs, but of course I took advice from people that I trust. The Mother Superior General has to approve of the choices! My vocal coach helps me a lot. She gives me suggestions and advice on music.
Will we be seeing you perform in the states at all? SC: The future is in the hands of the providence! I’m promoting the record now, so who knows? The wish that I have in my heart is that I have to get purified by God first. Then God will decide if I get to heaven or not. If I get the privilege of preaching the gospel, then I will [perform in the States].
Coming back to Madonna, what were your thoughts when she called you her sister on Instagram? SC: Madonna is Madonna! It’s such a great honor. She said we are sisters for life. We’re sisters in music, because music is about sharing. It is beautiful that music can bring together worlds that are so far apart. It’s a very powerful tool that can be used to share different ideas.
Pick up Sister Cristina’s debut album on iTunes.