Salt and Light #23
BLWYDDYN NEWYDD DDA!
Happy New Year from the Welsh Borders. Toasting you all much love, health and happiness for 2023!
REFLECTIONS: A SNOWY, SERENE CHRISTMAS
I was sent some photos on Christmas Day from my friend in Uganda, of the new school he’s built, and of the elderly in the village he was taking porridge to. As I sat around the Christmas table with my family, we looked at the photos of the big smiles on women’s faces upon receiving a food parcel. It made us even more grateful for the food we were eating. This year it seemed presents were less of a focus, and being together, listening to music, and conversation were at the centre. My aunty sent me a poem about the beauty of Christmas hush, over the Christmas rush. I had a restful, warm, peaceful Christmas, with a few unexpected gifts, and surprise visits. I hope you all had a special time, and are feeling inspired for the new year ahead!
NEW YEAR IN CAMDEN TOWN
It feels really good to have the focus of a solo concert so early in the year. I’ve been working on my set, and looking forward to seeing old and new friends in London. I’m excited to be going to Glasgow for Celtic Connections at the end of January. I’m back in the studio recording my new album and looking forward to sharing more tour news soon!
CHRISTMAS CAROLS AT CARE HOME
It was a lovely experience singing at a local care home this Christmas, with the wonderful piano player, Sheena Wieckowick. My grandmother suffered with dementia, which is why I started singing in care homes. There is increased oxytocin in the brain when people listen to music. One of the greatest joys of singing is the connection with the audience, and there are measurable improvements on tests of cognitive function when singing to people with Alzheimer’s. The most compelling for me is that when people with dementia respond to music, they can hear a song they recognise from years ago, and can recite every word, even though they may not remember their own name or the person sitting next to them. Miraculously, music reaches a part of the brain that dementia does not effect. It has been proven that self-esteem increases, and those suffering with dementia feel more competent, and less alone. These benefits are not limited to patients with dementia, but can be seen in elderly people in general. Music gives us the chance to be ourselves, to share emotional experiences with caretakers and loved ones. Here is an interview I did from my last project working with people with dementia.
Interview at Hartlebury Museum with Artsuplift Community Project
Hagley Place Care Home, Ludlow December 2022
Theme tune I wrote for the Artsuplift Music and Dementia project “Sue and her Suitcase”
ENCANTO: I spent a long weekend with my cousin’s daughters, in Wales, and over indulged in Disney. Encanto, Spanish for enchantment, is a magical tale about restoring magic in a family house in Colombia. The physically strong sister must admit her weaknesses, the beautiful daughter finds liberation in her imperfections, and the sister who thinks she has no gifts brings back the magic to the family home through love.
HARMONY: Listening to the King’s Christmas Message reminded me of this great book by the former Prince of Wales, now sovereign, on the need for balance in our modern world. He discusses sacred geometry, religion, the arts and crafts movement and food and agriculture. It’s a beautiful read, poetic and scientific.
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Wishing everyone a wonderful, and magical 2023!