‘Art Should Have Some Kind of Redemptive Quality’ in Today’s Pop Culture

LifeZette spoke with musician Rob Carona about his new single, 'Down to the River,' a tune that addresses hope, redemption, and God's love

by Zachary Leeman | Updated 17 Apr 2018 at 11:22 AM

It’s tough to find messages of hope and inspiration in today’s popular culture. Modern artistic content is often drenched with divisive and negative themes.

So if you find yourself turning your back on much of what the entertainment industry puts out these days on film, television, music and more, you may want to give a listen to the new single by musician Rob Carona, “Down to the River.”

Carona — born and raised in San Diego, though he has roots in Louisiana — has dared to release a song that challenges the status quo and looks to inspire.

“There’s a hallelujah calling to all of us in time,” sings Carona (shown above) in the newly released single and music video. Check the song out for yourself below.

LifeZette had the opportunity to talk to Carona about the inspiration behind the new song, and also to get his thoughts on the role art plays in the culture today.

Question: Tell us about your new single and the inspiration behind it. Can you explain what you mean by "down to the river"?
Answer: That phrase "Down to The River" is a reference to a baptism. I wanted to portray a message of redemption — about being washed clean of the past and experiencing a better life.

I have met many people in my life, some very close to me, who have struggled with things like addiction, abuse, PTSD, and other issues, thinking they have no hope of recovery. So it becomes their identity — they relive it every day.

Even without the major issues, I feel like our culture is causing people to feel like they always have to make it seem like everything is amazing in their life. It's the big "insta-lie." I do believe in God and have seen His amazing love and grace turn my life around. I wanted this song to be a gentle and subtle nudge toward the idea of a greater love, and I'm hoping this message allows people to put their walls and guns down so they are free to let it in.

"I do believe in God and have seen His amazing love and grace turn my life around."

Q: You've shared stages with some pretty big acts [Kenny Chesney, Brian McKnight, Trick Pony]. What's the greatest lesson you have learned from playing with another musician?
A: I think for any aspiring performer, there is always a desire to meet and work with idols and influences. The most important thing I learned is that they are human, too. You can't [put] them on a pedestal because, although they're talented, [that] doesn't mean they're perfect. What I took away from a couple of those amazing opportunities was, one, handling your career and craft maturely and professionally goes a long way and opens the right doors. And two, staying "down to earth" and accessible to the people who support you is vital to success and maintaining humility.

Q: Your song is very redemptive and positive. Not a lot of music today has that sort of weight behind it; a lot of stuff is more vapid or aggressive today. These are divisive times culturally. As an artist, how do you see art's role in 2018?
A: Wow, that's a deep question. I think I need a cup of coffee first!

I truly believe it is art's role to express the full scope of the human condition. It has the ability to reach into the past, express the present, and create the future. If songs and artists today are starting to express more negative or superficial sentiments, that is usually very telling as to what our culture is crying out for. I think it's necessary to have the bad along with the good. We have to express it all to help process the emotions we go through, but at the end of it all, art should take on the responsibility of having some kind of redemptive quality.

It should lead us into the places where humanity longs to be at the core. As for me, my songs tend to be more positive, but I am not afraid of the occasional dark lyric because I know I have to be authentic for people to resonate with my music.

"It seems like we are always having to compare our art to someone else's to decide which one is better."

On a side note, in reference to your note about these being divisive times, I feel there is a pervading sense of competition set up among musicians especially. With all the contest shows like "The Voice" and "American Idol," it seems like we are always having to compare our art to someone else's to decide which one is better — and it's all a manufactured reality.

The truth is, there is room for it all. It requires a lot of the artist in terms of excellence and perseverance, but any expression is valuable, even more so when it is authentic and not trying to make itself something it's not in order to compete.

Rob Carona's "Down to the River" is available on streaming platforms now.

PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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