“Music has a powerful way of bringing people comfort,” says Peter Merideth, B.M. 2005. “It takes the chaos of sound and creates some degree of order and beauty. In a world that feels very much out of control and often ugly, that order and beauty from chaos is all the more impactful.”
Merideth has been singing at his church every weekend since he was child. When public spaces in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo., shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he missed having that routine. And his friends and family missed hearing the music every Sunday at St. Margaret of Scotland Church. Eager to make music and get out of the house, Merideth got together with Steve Neale, his friend and choir director at St. Margaret’s, to perform songs for those seeking comfort during the pandemic. With Neale on the piano and Merideth singing, and two Zoom recorders, an iPhone, and an iPad for recording,“Spirit Sessions: Songs from Peter and Steve” was created.
“The response was really astonishing,” Merideth said, “with the video quickly being shared and viewed thousands of times, and folks reaching out with the most powerful emotional responses and gratitude. Steve and I realized we needed to make this a regular thing.”
They set up a Facebook page and YouTube channel to share music every week. In order to keep the sessions small (following social distancing guidelines) yet create a variety of sounds, Merideth and Neale invite different guest musicians, including world-renowned symphony cellist Bjorn Ranheim, to record with them.
Merideth’s time at Catholic University had an enormous impact on him. “Catholic University’s musical experience constantly focused on music as a means, not an end,” he said. “A means to enhance religious and spiritual experiences, or a means to express ideas and stories. That has constantly shaped my approach to making music to this day.”
Merideth is currently the Missouri state representative for the 80th District in South St. Louis City. “Honestly, my time at Catholic University is likely the main reason I ended up in politics,” he said. Living in D.C. is where he became more aware and interested in politics.
He received his J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and then ran for political office. “As state rep, I represent the voices of about 35,000 people in this South St. Louis community that I am so deeply connected to. I get a chance to fight for the things I believe in, and for the world I want my little girls to grow up in,” said Merideth.
He is also a member of an a cappella Celtic music group, The Wee Heavies. “Music feeds my soul. Very simply, it keeps me connected to something deep that’s beyond words, and is the most spiritual thing I do in life.”