Classical and Folk music veteran Peg Luke is preparing to share new music following the release of “Almighty, Victorious.” The multi-award-winning composer had also recently reissued her 2020 single “God Will Be My Peace.”
PopCultr had the pleasure to host the Emmy and Grammy-nominated artist for an interview where she discusses her past and future projects. Luke looks back on her favorite performances with many prestigious musicians including the Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. The virtuoso also opens up about her battle with the autoimmune disease, mesenteric panniculitis.
Read more about Peg Luke below.
“Almighty, Victorious” has recently been jumping up in numbers. How do you feel about gaining new listeners and reaching a wider audience?
I certainly am excited and thrilled to be gaining more online listeners with my recent single, “Almighty, Victorious”. Did you know I took the lyrics from the classic hymn, “Immortal, Invisible” and reworked the words and melody? The song has such an important message about strength and courage. I was really happy with the way it came out and I hope more and more people are drawn to its message which just happens to be set to some incredible Irish inspired music!
Why did you decide to re-release your 2020 single “God Will Be My Peace”? What does the song mean to you and what message would you like to convey through it?
The decision to re-release my “God Will Be My Peace” was an easy one. This tune was constructed at the beginning of the pandemic. The inspiration was taken from the Bible book of Micah, chapter 5. The essence of the tune draws from our insecurity and ultimate lack of control in our lives. Today the landscape of our lives may have changed but the ultimate need for strength, courage and love has not. I think “God Will Be My Peace” will always be applicable in our lives. So bringing this comforting message back to people was important to me.
Before “Almighty, Victorious” you had released “The Greatest Gift.” How are the two singles different from each other in terms of arrangements and creative approach?
“The Greatest Gift” was recorded right before the pandemic hit. It was recorded in my producer’s studio (multi Grammy-winning producer Neal Merrick Blackwood) in the Smoky mountains. The landscape was beautiful, but the music was incredible. We asked a local children’s choir (Asheville School of the Arts Children’s Choir under the direction of Karen Sorrells) from Asheville, North Carolina to come and sing. I brought out an Emmy-winning videographer (Jody Spence) from Nashville to film it all. I added myself on the flute and from there, we created our own Christmas magic. This music video made it to the finals of the regional Emmy’s a few years ago.
If you compare “Almighty, Victorious” and “The Greatest Gift” they are completely different in nature. I love grabbing different textures and different themes to get my music across. Whether it is a Christmas tune or an Irish tune, they are all important. I love to do this because this ultimately expands myself as a creative and it also expands the impact on my listening audience.
Previously you had mentioned that you finished recording “I am Home, Lord.” Is there a release date or are you still working on the editing and mixing? What kind of sound should the listeners expect from the track?
My producer, Neal Merrick Blackwood and I just completed our final mix yesterday. Funny you should ask, this single “I am Home, Lord” is one of my favorites so far. It is dedicated to all the refugees and homeless throughout our world. It is also dedicated to all the service members that are upholding our freedom throughout the world. The tune really encompasses the fact that we are truly “home” with God wherever we may be. All we have to do is to reach out. I intend to get this released in early March 2023. The tune uses myself on vocals, my husband Jack on clarinet, a string ensemble, piano, drums and bass. It is a really gorgeous piece, laid back but still intense. I can’t wait to bring it to you! Be watching for it soon!
How is it like collaborating with Grammy-winning producer Neal Merrick Blackwood? We heard you two have a new Christmas project in the works. Is it a full-length album? Will it come out during the holidays?
It is always incredible working with Neal. I think we feed off each other really well. I think in a very strange way we create a kind of magic that only two people that have a lot of experience in their craft can do. I am always thrilled to see what we’re going to come up with next!
Yes, we do have a Christmas project coming up. We are actually working on it right now. We hope we will have a complete album ready to go by November 2023. We certainly have a lot of singles created already. I am really very happy with the results that we have so far. I hope that we can truly bless our listeners with some glorious Christmas music. Be watching for it!
You’ve had a great career so far. You’ve even been nominated for a Grammy and an Emmy. What have been the greatest challenges you had to face in your journey?
I have had a unique career so far, that is for sure. I’ve had a lot of incredible moments on stage and I have experienced remarkable milestones. I’ve kind of felt like I have nothing left to prove but to create the best music I know how to do. I have continued to grow through happy and sad times. My challenges have been great and I have faced much adversity with not only my music but my health.
I suffer from a very rare and painful autoimmune disease called mesenteric panniculitis. This disease has caused a shift in the way I make music. I have not been able to tolerate the vaccines so far which makes me unprotected to the general public. To protect myself and others I remain isolated but do get out as much as I can, but remain double-masked and distanced. I compose and perform from my home. I also remotely record in my studio downstairs!
All that being said, I can convincingly say, I am a warrior and I refuse to quit. This disease is not going to get me down nor is it going to keep me from doing what I meant to do, and that is to bring beautiful, inspiring and heartfelt music to you.
Do you have any live performances in the coming months? Which is your favorite and most memorable performance of your career?
Because of my disease, I do not perform in public arenas right now. But, I do occasionally bring live music from my home to the streaming listener.
I have had so many memorable performances in my career. The ones that stand out in my mind are the standing ovations at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The rhythmic clapping of the audience and the cheering and yelling in between movements at Carnegie always bring a smile to my face. I have done nearly a dozen solo performances there and every time I perform there I feel the artists that have gone before me. I feel an obligation to continue to strive to the highest level possible when I perform there.
I also had an extremely interesting experience when I was recording at Henry Wood Hall in London. A gentleman who happened to be the director of a local ballet company in London was standing in his seersucker suit and cane while I was recording there. He came in and stood right beside me while we were “LIVE” and my producer was going crazy. He was mesmerized and that brought a huge smile to my face.
I also had an incredible performance with the famed cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich. After performing with him he came into the orchestra and grabbed my hand and kissed it asking me to take a bow instead of himself.
Yes, I have had a lot of memorable occasions. I look forward to many more.
Listen to “Almighty, Victorious” & “God Will Be My Peace” here: