Catholic Music Spotlight: The Hillbilly Thomists
Wearing their white robes, these men of the Order of Preachers do what friars do, while also composing bluegrass music on instruments including but not limited to banjo, fiddle, accordion, and drum set. All that Liturgical chanting must’ve really formed their voices because they are certainly harmonious!
These friars of The Hillbilly Thomists first came together at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., which you can support here (https://www.hillbillythomists.com/donate ) or by buying any of their music or merchandise.
Their first album, The Hillbilly Thomists, was released in 2017 and hit third on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. Their other albums include Living for the Other Side (2021) and Holy Ghost Power (2022). Their 2020 tour (The Old Highway) included New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Music videos featuring their beautiful, honest life as friars on their site or YouTube.
They aren’t out for fame, fortune, or to make an over-blown performance; they are serving God—but with prayer, preaching, and bluegrass music. Even if you’re not a fan of that genre, try them out because you might still enjoy them. (They made me a fan of bluegrass!)
Why the name? Well, their website explains:
In 1955, the southern author Flannery O’Connor said of herself, “Everybody who has read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas . . . I’m a hillbilly Thomist.” She said that her fiction was concerned with the ways grace is at work among people who do not have access to the sacraments. The Thomist (one who follows the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas) believes that the invisible grace of God can be at work in visible things, just as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Christ.
Next “Christian music only” challenge you do, add The Hillbilly Thomists. Their music is just the right genre for a chill brunch, afternoon reading, or a Sunday drive, but it can also be a wonderful way to meditate intentionally or to subtly preach to that secular neighbor you’ve been praying for.
While you listen to this video of their song The Good Tree, meditate on the meaning of their words and the Savior Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Where is your soul right now—the tree making the cross of His Crucifixion or the tree of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? Are you bearing good fruit?
Good Tree | Hillbilly Thomists
Catholic-Link has created a Spotify playlist for Hillbilly Thomists, too!