As a youthful convert to the Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Liriel Domiciano would often shed tears as she would hear broadcasts or recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On March 21, the 22-year-old singer, who has achieved fame and popularity in her homeland as a recording artist under her first name Liriel, performed as a soloist with the choir during its nationwide broadcast. It was, for her, the fulfillment of a dream.
And it was a prelude for another memorable experience. At the upcoming general conference on Sunday, April 4, she will again solo with the choir, singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives," at the request of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who saw her perform at a cultural event in connection with the recent rededication of the temple in Sao Paulo.
"You can feel the Spirit whenever you hear the Tabernacle Choir," Liriel said through interpreter Jeannette N. Oakes the day after the broadcast. "You feel like God is present. I felt like crying. I didn't feel worthy to be singing with them, because I don't have a structured musical background; I haven't had the opportunity to study like those people in the choir."
Her prior apprehensions were quelled, though, when she met musical director Craig Jessop. "He was so warm and kind to me," she said, "very generous. He helped me so much to prepare, and I could see that my prayers were answered through him, and that God was there with me."
Indeed, at the broadcast Liriel displayed a musicality, poise, grace and stage presence that belied her lack of formal training as she soloed on Rachmaninoff's "Rejoice, O Virgin" and the Harold Arlen movie theme "Over the Rainbow," and sang in duet with Utah high school student Cari Sue Green on Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu."
To say that Liriel's voice and talent are gifts from God is to acknowledge the obvious.
"At 3 years of age, I knew that I wanted to be a singer in my life," she said. "I started actually singing when I was 5 years old. I had the opportunity to hear a variety of musical styles, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and also the popular singers of that time."
When she was 16, a friend lent her a classical-music recording. Within 20 minutes she had memorized and was able to sing the entire aria. "I was surprised at myself," she said. "I could see that it was very easy for me to do, and I was able to see within that 20-minute period of time that I was actually more of an erudite type of a singer than I was a popular singer."
At age 19, she applied for a job as a seamstress for a bridal fashion show. She decided to audition as a wedding singer for the show, performing a Puccini aria. Within two days she received 10 job offers. Later, she achieved success on a national television talent show and quickly developed a following.
Liriel found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through a family friend who, when Liriel was young, would come to the house to work and occasionally care for the children.
"This girl, whenever she was in our home and she was near me, I always felt some special spirit about her," Liriel recalled. "She always sang songs from the Primary, and the music I still remember. Then she began to talk to my mother about the Church. She asked my mother to pray and said if she would pray with a pure heart and real intent, that God would answer her prayers and tell her that the Church was the true Church."
The mother believed those words and prayed. Then, she went to sleep and dreamed of being near the Salt Lake Temple by a garden of beautiful flowers. In the dream, a man in the distance called to her to come to him. "This was not a common man; she knew that. It was Christ Himself. And He called her to come into the temple. My mother said, 'No, I'm not worthy to go in the temple.' 'You come; you are worthy, and I will show you inside.' And when she went inside, He asked her to take off Her shoes and He showed her through the temple — everything that was beautiful within the walls of the temple. This was a response to her prayer, that she had this dream, and she felt like this was the answer to her prayer asking if the Church was the right direction to take her family."
Liriel's mother did not share that experience with her daughter until she was 14. Liriel said, "I didn't have one doubt that my mother was telling me the truth. . . . I thought, 'Why didn't she tell me about this dream before? I would have entered the Church before the age of 14.' "
In fact, Liriel had been preparing herself to become a Catholic nun. "I wanted to feel protected from the things of the world," she explained, "because I had observed the people in the world behaving in ways that I didn't feel were right, and I didn't want my life to be that way in any aspect. I could see that the only way I would be protected from these things in the world that I didn't approve of was to follow His path and to keep His commandments."
Today, as a symbol of that commitment, Liriel wears a Young Women medallion attached to whatever necklace she is wearing at the time. Many of her fans have noticed and wondered where they can obtain such a medallion for themselves.
It is just one way in which she is demonstrating to an admiring public what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.
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