To describe Andy Andino, one might paraphrase the lyrics of a Barry Manilow tune: Andy “writes the songs that make the whole church sing.” But the road to songwriting was not a smooth one. Under the guidance of a compassionate missionary nun, however, Andy found the strength to develop his natural musical talent and draw closer to Christ.
Andy Andino was born in Brooklyn, New York, the second of five brothers. At the age of 12, his parents divorced and his mother moved her sons to Cleveland to be closer to her family. As a teenager, Andy dropped out of East High School. Nonetheless, he started attending youth meetings at San Juan Bautista Church in Cleveland. The group was led by Sr. Nancy Madden, a sister of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. In those days, Andy remembers, “I was above-average in music, but not good in any other subjects.” Sr. Nancy sensed that Andy was musically-minded, but needed some direction. “She had a guitar, and I was interested in playing it,” reflects Andy. “She said, ‘I’ll give you the guitar, but if you learn how to play it, you’ll have to play it for Mass.’ Within two weeks, I was playing it for Mass. She was very supportive of my pursuit of music.” Moreover, Sr. Nancy strongly encouraged Andy to finish his education. Ultimately, he graduated from Lincoln West High School and obtained an Associate of Arts Degree with an Emphasis in Music from Cuyahoga Community College.
The gifted musician began to make a living by playing with Spanish-American bands in nightclubs, community theaters, and churches. Demonstrating great versatility, Andy competently plays 10 different instruments, including guitar, piano, saxophone, bass, flute, trumpet, and trombone. “I’m a jack of all trades, and master of none,” he laughs. While Andy played music at churches, he confesses that early on, he did not take it seriously. In the late 1980s, he met his wife Wendy at a church youth group. “She had, and still has, the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard,” Andy sighs. Following a whirlwind courtship, they married in 1989. “She helped me to see the beauty of music, and how it moved people when we were playing at coffee houses.” Soon, Andy and Wendy shifted their focus from the club scene to the church scene. They played contemporary Christian music with strong three-part harmony. Employed by the Diocesan Youth Office, Andy led the musical portions of youth retreats and Vacation Bible School programs at Sacred Heart Chapel in Lorain. His powerhouse vocal group, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, served as the house band for Catholic youth conferences and toured throughout the country for 17 years.
In 2018, Andy became the Music Director for Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, OH. In addition to leading the liturgical music for all Masses at Gilmour’s Our Lady Chapel, Andy directed the Academy’s choir and taught band and digital recording of music at the school.
Throughout his career, Andy’s first love has been, and will be, composing. More than 30 of Andy’s liturgical compositions have been published by the Oregon Catholic Press. Many of his songs were published in “Spirit and Song” and in a Spanish hymnal. For the last 10 years, Andy has composed arrangements for all of the responsorial psalms for each Sunday of Cycles A, B, and C. The book of psalm arrangements will be published in 2024. Andy and his group also recorded some of his compositions on Spirit and Song CDs.
After 25 years as SJB’s Music Director, Norm Cotone was looking forward to a well-deserved retirement. Norm became acquainted with Andy through youth conferences and diocesan events, and considered him to be the most qualified successor to his position. In July 2023, Andy gladly accepted the position at SJB. Andy has found the atmosphere at SJB most welcoming. “There is a lot of appreciation for the music ministry here,” he smiles. “The people in the choir have been so encouraging. Norm has been so supportive every step of the way.” As a parish family, we have enjoyed singing many of Andy’s responsorial psalms at Sunday Masses.
Andy and his wife Wendy have three grown sons and reside in the Gordon Square neighborhood of Cleveland. He wishes to encourage more young people to sing with SJB’s choir. Please join our music ministry and choir for a Christmas concert on Sunday, January 7, 2024, at 2:00 PM. It’s a wonderful way to conclude the Christmas season.
Submitted by Christine and Bob Martuch