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Capture the ND Spirit

Kevin Noonan | Friday, October 26, 2012

A distinct and unique musical spirit has long been a part of the Irish people and their culture, and certainly music has been central to Notre Dame’s own tradition, with its “greatest fight song in all the land” and the oldest collegiate marching band in the United States.

This idea was reflected in Notre Dame’s recent $2 billion “The Spirit of Notre Dame Campaign” with the production and release of a two-part album aimed at capturing the musical identity of the Fighting Irish called “The Spirit of Notre Dame.”

The album features two different discs, the first of which is an upbeat, tailgating-minded collection entitled “Celebration.” This first part is mostly a fun, fast-paced collection of Celtic and Notre Dame-themed songs.

John Tabis, a 2000 graduate, and Ken O’Malley create the jig-inspiring melody “Irish in the Yard” by altering the lyrics of the commonly known tune, “Whiskey in the Jar” to suit this year’s Irish football team.

“What Are You Fighting For?” by Emily Lord, a 1996 graduate, is a moving and uplifting ballad of finding purpose, and “Wearin’ of the Green” by the Notre Dame Bagpipe Band is a rousing bagpipe and percussion ballad.

“Here Come the Irish” by John Scully, a 1980 graduate, and Jim Tullio is a song that will be familiar to anyone who’s been to a Notre Dame football game, but the album updates it with an opening introduction from University president emeritus Fr. Ted Hesburgh that, as most things Fr. Hesburgh says, carries a gravity that will give listeners the chills.
“Here Come the Irish” and another song on the album, “Warrior” by 2007 alumnus Jeffery Stephens and 2005 alumnus Lawrence Santiago, class of 2005, was featured on the Jumbotron during Notre Dame’s football game against Miami at Soldier Field on Oct. 6.

The second disc, “Reflections,” is a more contemplative look into the Notre Dame spirit. “Notre Dame’s Prayer to a Guardian Angel” by Roberta Lee Halladay, a 1974 graduate, combines the religious tradition of Notre Dame with a slow, introspective and peaceful tune.

“With All Your Heart Believe” by 1994 graduate Tim O’Neill, is another touching and emotional song that evokes the seriousness and sentimentality of Notre Dame. “Too Rah Loo Rah Loo Rah” is sung by one of Notre Dame’s most famous alumnus, Regis Philbin, a 1953 graduate.

The album, which features a total of 33 songs from a number of alumni from many different generations, was a project spearheaded and produced by Tim and Ryan O’Neill, 1994 and 1997 graduates, respectively.

“It’s basically the biggest music compilation project in Notre Dame history,” Tim O’Neill said. “I’m thankful that Notre Dame asked my brother and me to produce the project.”

The two brothers are a highly successful musical team, having sold more than two million CDs so far in their career, with horizons broadening beyond their alma mater. But Tim O’Neill said their true passion is for Notre Dame.

“What we really love are these Notre Dame songs, and we just really love to get the word out about some of these talented alumni,” he said. “It’s a Notre Dame family project that’s going to sell a lot of music, but more importantly connect a people back with Notre Dame and get them emotional about the place and hopefully the donate their time or money.”