As published in Catholic Digest (Issue Dec 2012):
From fame to faith
Pop music super star Tajci uses music to engage and inspire
By Susie Lloyd

Tajci had what every teen wanted—looks, money, and fame. She was south central Europe’s version of Madonna. Her records went diamond and platinum. Everywhere she went, she was mobbed by screaming fans—until she disappeared.

In 1991, at the age of 21, inspired by a spiritual renewal, she rejected fame and chose instead a life of anonymity in the United States. She found faith, family, and a chance to serve God through her music. Tajci (pronounced TY-chee) is now the wife of 13 years to Matthew Cameron and the mother of three children. She and her husband have produced more than 900 concerts at churches throughout the United States.

How do you juggle everything? I have an amazing husband without whom I could not do this. This is not just my job. This is our teamwork. For a while I felt guilty that I wasn't a regular mom, but I gave that feeling up. I have to prioritize and sometimes drop what is not important. Family and marriage come first.

Does it help that you and Matthew take the kids on the road with you? It’s very important to travel as a family. We found a great parish school which understood our specific situation and worked with us. This is the first year we are trying “road schooling.” We can’t really call it home schooling. We have a lovely young lady who is going to tutor them. It’s important for me to have my children be a part of the concert. Not just for the audience; it’s for them so they learn that this is not just a job. It’s a ministry.

Do you still perform in Croatia? What do they think of you now? Absolutely! I was surprised by two things. There is a huge group of people that love what I do now because they have also gone through a spiritual awakening. There are others who just want more of the songs I used to do. Both groups have children and both connect my former music with experiences they would like to pass on to their children. In the last few years, we have made frequent trips to Croatia to bridge the gap. I don’t want to be known only for those two years of my life. I have created a body of work that I want to share with them.

Do you ever look at the evolution of Madonna — and think, “There go I...”? I believe God reaches out to all of us and cares for all of us. Everyone has a journey. Madonna during Evita—from what I read in her diaries—was searching and so desiring. God only knows in the end—I don’t think he gives up on any of us. If you look in Wikipedia, how many celebrities have committed suicide or died of drugs? The number is horrendous. I experienced that tipping point where the pressure is tremendous. The pressure is not just created by the industry but also by the fans that connect to your music and your personality.
They look up to you. They want you to fill their needs, but you are not a teacher or philosopher. You are an artist and a celebrity who doesn’t have all the answers. If we buy into that pressure and don’t have our own source of strength, we inevitably self-destruct. Families should pray for celebrities.

That was your crisis, wasn’t it? I was so lonely at the top of my career. Everyone assumes you have everything and you don’t need anything. They are interested in what you wear. Nobody knows who you really are.

What turned you around? My high-school best friend, Ivana, saw how lonely I was and invited me to a teenage gathering in the basement of a Dominican church. It was not formal. We would just hang and talk to each other about books and music. It was a relaxed and open gathering of teenagers. There was a priest and some seminarians, but nobody was pointing the finger at you and giving you a lecture. They treated me as if they did not know me. That was so respectful. That is why I was able to open myself up. They gave me permission to be who I was.

What was it like to find faith after living under Communism? We were all baptized and we knew it, but in school under Communism, you did not assert that there was a God. I was frightened. I wanted to believe. At times, I would walk around the church. If I walked in, I’d stand somewhere in the back for hours and try to understand the stories in the stained glass windows, the smells, and the music. I felt rejected by those who misjudged me or wanted me to be a certain way. I was scared to be rejected again if I asked the question I so desperately wanted to ask: “Are you there? Are you real? If you are, do you hear my voice?

Do you have any words for young people who are hoping to find the emotional wholeness you found? I do music with passion. I express God through music. But it still doesn’t define who I am. When you reach success in anything, it still doesn’t define you. The only thing that defines you is God. We have to stay alert and conscious of how our actions affect other souls.
After a concert once, a man came up to me and asked me if I had some words of comfort to offer his friend who was crying from being homesick. I approached the young person and put my arms around her and whispered into her ear: “Just cry. Honor your heart. It’s telling you how much you love your home.” Instead of trying to find a “quick fix,” we need to make ourselves available to listen and be there for each other.

Is it okay to ask you for your favorite beauty tip? You’re past 40 and you look great. Inquiring moms want to know! Well, getting enough sleep and exercise—those are on my wish list, but I do take care of my skin. I don’t buy cheap cosmetic products. I cut back on something else.

This question comes from a fan. Any plans to write your autobiography? I’ve been thinking about that for a while. The challenge is to find the time! Also, our hope is that when we do our 1,000th concert in 2013, we will have a book about our journey through all these concerts.

It’s been an incredible journey from pop icon to icon of faith. What are you trying to convey through your music now?
 Bl. John Paul II, in his letter to artists, says that we have a duty to express the beauty of God through our talent, not only to Catholics, but to people of different faiths. That is what we are trying to do: engage, inspire, and believe.
To find out more about Tajci and view her concert schedule, visit her website: http://idobelieve.com/

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