By Paola Maschio

de_Viaud_Pop.jpg (8478 byte) Ines, I know that you started singing when you were very young, but at a certain point in your life, you realised that singing and writing music was a gift of God. What was it that helped you to see this and what do you feel you are transmitting to people?I was 13 years old when I understood that music was a part of my life. My dream was that of attending the Conservatory, but there was no chance of that because my mother maintained that music was not a way of earning a living. So I decided to learn how to play the guitar and to take part in the Ibero-American Festival of Light Music, the "OTI Festival" where I represented my country. I came back from there happy because I had received an offer of work for 2 years in Spain, but I was already married with children and the thought of leaving them in order to pursue my dream was unbearable, so I decided to stay put with my family.
I was invited at the time to sing during the mass for the sick in the El Salvador State Hospital. This new experience, that coincided with my own father's illness and subsequent death, made me realize that my music could reach out and touch the hearts of the sick and offer them a little peace. It was at this point that I began to understand that the Lord was using me through my music to serve the community, and slowly I began to realize what my mission was. Through my singing I want to bear witness to the fact that only the Lord can grant us true life and lead us to understand its true value.

This choice was born surely from a change in your inner life. What happened exactly? How was it received within the family? I know you are married and have five children, so how did they react when confronted with your changes? I married when I was 16, and I already had three children. I had withdrawn from the world of entertainment and from the offers of work that followed the OTI festival, because I had chosen to stay with my family. When I started singing in the hospital, my family were fairly happy because they thought that the Lord would never have allowed me to distance myself from them. In the meantime two more babies were born and my family were happy. Together with my family we understood what "giving oneself for love" meant, which was something that I had inilled into my family. My mother in fact is the head of the Prison Confraternity in El Salvador. We realised that respect and human dignity are important values by which to always live one's life by, and from the poor we learn about human dignity. I also recognised that we are all in search of life but the life that the world has to offer us is made up of desolation, emptiness and desperation, whilst through faith I discovered that Life is the biggest and greatest gift that God could ever have given us.

You now perform all over Latin America, the States (Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Arizona, Washington etc.). You have also been to Canada and in many South American countries. Tell us a little about your travels? What I can say, is that the world is in great need of love. There is so much pain, wounds from the past, wars, and the best thing about my mission is not just the singing, but being close to people, coming into contact with them, offering them myself as an experience of the faith. Sometimes all of this "heals", and I am nothing more than an instrument in the hands of God. My mission is hard, and at times I get back home exhausted, with no energy left in me, but once I set foot in my house and see my family again, I quickly recover and thank the Lord. Sometimes I find that I am placed under pressure by difficult situations that arise in the family, problems with the children, or by other bothersome situations. However I look upon them as a test and I know that the Lord will help me to overcome them. Travelling has allowed me to get to know the many different realities of this world and I have come to know myself, my weakness, my insecurities, my frailties, and I have learnt to place my trust in God.

You have been to Italy several times to perform. Can you tell us briefly what struck you most about these experiences and what differences did you notice from the people of your own country? I came to Italy thanks to my meeting Don Mario Migliarese, Aurelio Pitino and Roberto Bignoli, the Italian Christian singer-songwriters, at the "Hosanna" Festival in Orlando (USA). They invited me to the "Multifestival Magnificat, Christian Artists Europe", to the "International Youth Meeting" in Schio. During the course of the last five years I have performed in concerts all over Italy. I discovered that young Italian people have a need to be touched by new forms of evangelisation, and I think that Christian inspired music is an important method of getting close to them.

El Salvador is a terribly afflicted country, recently shattered by an earthquake. What do you see as your mission to your "own people"? Yes, my country has lived through many difficult moments in the course of history and it is a country that suffers. The recent earthquake has added to and prolonged this suffering. It seems as if God has abandoned us, but I do not believe this is so. In fact I prefer to see it as a "Chosen" country, because it is precisely through this enormous cross that we are asked to bear that we can feel closer to him. It may seem a paradox perhaps, but it is this what leads me into thinking that it is possible to GO ON. A year ago I met Sr. Ana Beatriz in her "S. Ines" school, where I held a concert for her students. The school has now been destroyed and needs to be rebuilt, and I will do everything I can to make that happen as quickly as possible. It is from here that project "Friends of El Salvador" was born. It is committed to the rebuilding of S. Ines School and to the bringing of help to smaller places such as the town of S. Lorenzo for example. I am using all of my abilities and calling upon all that I know in order to help El Salvador in a practical manner.

Do you have a message for the reader of 'Popoli'? It is beautiful to be a Christian… but it is even more beautiful to live one's life as a Christian, and in my most recent song I say. : "Lord, when I arrive before You, do you know what I would like to bring with me? The smiles that are on the faces of the children as a result of my songs, my hair that is wet from the tears of the poor to whom no one listened, my veins that are drained through having given of myself unconditionally… but the most important thing of all… my arriving with hands full of love".

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