Saturday November 17, 2007:
Musicians coping with illness
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new web listeners, especially those battling illness or who are
THANKS SO MUCH to the
management fo accommodating my health issues which allow me to
to volunteer Saturday mornings
and bring you the music that 'moves and
sustains me. '
Today's show involves musicians who
are coping with, or have coped with
serious illness, yet continue to sing, tour and educate.
Being as normal as possible
while coping with illlness has defined much of my last three years and
I am particularly impressed with folks that can continue creatively
with such a struggle on their plate. Its been widely spoken about in
the folk world that U. Utah Phillips
has a week heart, running a blog and not touring. Roaseanne Cash is
undergoing brain surgery, Pete
Seeger has battled Lyme disease and Mary Travers battled lukemia
necessitating a bone marrow transplant.I spent this week asking some
performers if they would be willing to share publicly about their
illness and struggle and speak about the part that music played
their recovery if at all.
Thanks to several DJs and musicians who responded with contacts and
statements right up until early
1. Eric Hansen was
1996 with a rare congenital lung disease. He continues to tour with
only 38% lung function. Eric lives in Tuscon, home of many with
breathing issues. In fact, some places like Snowflake Arizona are
solely inhabited by folks iwth chemical sensitivites, so that no
neighbors will be using pesticides, tarring their driveways nor
exhausting dryer sheets from laundry spouts. On
Erics website he says "let the healing begin with the sound of music"
Eric Hanson - This Too Shall Pass 3:20
Lover's Lullaby - www.erichansen.net/
2. David M. Bailey: David is an
survivor of a brain tumor that was predicted to kill him in 6
months. He has 16
cds of all original acoustic songs. At a
recent concert, one listener referred to him as part folk singer, part
theologian, part therapist, part comedian, and all heart..."
suggested by Steve
KOPN's Sunday Morning Coffeehouse
- Columbia, MO
David says: " When I was diagnosed
with a brain tumor and told I had 6 months to
live, it brought me back to my long abandoned music. I
resolved to spend the timeI had left doing what I loved and trying to
share hope with others while doing so. I did not expect
I would survive 11 years or that music would become my full time
career -- but both have happened. Does music heal? I don't
know. I do know that it helps you find your way through the dark.
I'm on the way to dallas to play for
the Society of Neuro-oncologists.....900 of them -- should be a
David Bailey -So Much More
Faith - www.davidmbailey.com/ -
3. Kat Eggleston Last night I wrote asking kat if shed like
to be included and told her
Waterbug label's Andrew Calhoun had suggested I play "One More Step"...
she wrote back...
Angela, thank you so much for
asking. I'd love to be included in this. Andrew was
right, "One More Step" is the one I would pick.
it's the only song I wrote during the treatment and adjustment
period after I got my diagnosis.I was extremely lucky and caught the
cancer VERY early, and I'm conscious of how fortunate i am, but
it turned out that it still scared the crap out of me,
more than I even knew at the time. I don't know how I handled
it. I think I'm handling it okay now. Writing the song
was great, and singing it now is even better. All I
could do was put one foot in
front of the other, and decide not to turn into something I
didn't like. Once I was able to look around at all the people I
love who were there for me, it was pretty easy. I hope
it'd be the same if cancer hit me harder than it did. I hope I'm
a better friend now than I used to be.
I'm pretty sure I said it right when I
wrote that song. I hope you're well, and really, thanks again for
asking. I'm going
to bed now. I'm in rehearsals now for Michael Smith's "Snow Queen" here
in Chicago, it's several works of genius in one show, and happily
exhausting to work on. Please keep in touch. I really appreciate
this. It's good to focus on this stuff. And by the way,
five years now. Isn't that great?
Kat Eggleston - One More Step
The Only Word - Red Wing Music - www.kateggleston.com/
Schmidt- cancer survivor. Danny wrote to me "I wrote this song
midst of some health troubles. A friend of mine had made me a ring
with the words - "This Too Shall Pass" - inscribed around
it. It struck me immediately as the most beautifully economic phrase
I've ever heard to express both the comfort and the terror of the
passing of time and the passing of condition, and of our own
Schmidt - This Too Shall Pass - www.dannyschmidt.com/
5. Penny Lang suffered a
stroke and a year away from music.
Penny Lang, began singing in montreal in the 60s at the age of 21.
In Arpil 17 of 2000 she was in St. John's, Newfoundland starting a
concert tour when she suffered a stroke' "It was a strange
feeling," she recalled "it was like I no longer had any control."
The concert tour was cancelled and Penny spent a week in a hospital
Newfoundland before returning to recover at home in Montreal. It would
be more than a year before she performed again. And talking with Penny,
there's no obvious sign that she's been through a stroke and the
subsequent speech and physiotherapy.Penny battled back, slowly began
touring again and put out Gather Honey, a collection of
previously-unreleased tracks from early in her career and most recently
Stone Sand Sea Sky.
I caught her manager Heidi last night, as Penny was stepping on stage
at the end of a 6 week tour, in Montreal, at the Sala Rossa...Heidi
Hi Angela, here's Penny's comment: "Playing music is
not a problem, but travelling sure is!"
That's Penny's take on it, hopefully you can get in
a tune!, thanks (she was getting ready to go on stage as I caught her
All the best, Heidi Fleming [Penny's manager] of Direction
Penny Lang - Johnny Be Fair 141
Live at they Yellow Door - She-Wolf Records -www.pennylang.com/
[Music and humour, both very healing]
David Roth Cancer of the Thyroid two years ago.
months after I had my thyroid removed in December of 2005, I was
scheduled for a "radioactive iodine ablation" to destroy any residual
thyroid cells remaining in my throat. My endocrinologist
to go on a two-week no-salt diet and completely off all thyroid
medicine in order to prepare my body for this radioactive
The doc said the first week would be okay, but the second week I could
expect to feel drowsy, puffy, short-tempered, irritable, tired, and
start losing my voice..and that second week I had a tour of the Pacific
Northwest that involved 7 appearances in 6 days...armed with my
uncooked fruits, vegetables, and a mind-over-matter disposition, I
sailed through those shows, lifted up by the joy of music, the
communities I was surrounded with, and I felt as if I'd never sung
better. When I came home, I turned down the drink, and have been
strong ever, since."
David Roth will be appearing live,
1/2hour from here tomorrow at the Mansion at 3 PM this coming
David Roth - Manual Garcia
Rising in Love - www.davidrothmusic.com/
8. Sloan Wainwright - thyroid
cancer a decade ago
I met Sloan Wainwright back in 1996 I believe. We were both wiating for
a shuttle bus at an airport. She is gracious, friendly, calming and has
many powerful releases out to date. Here is her note to me when I asked
if she would share publicly about illness and music. She wrote:
I'm happy to share publicly.
It's been 10 years that I have been cancer-free.
I had thyroid cancer in 1997. I had my thyroid, along with it's
tumors, completely removed and I take synthetic hormones to
regulate my body.
The scariest part of this condition and of having surgery, for
me, was the fear of losing my ability to sing.
But, I knew in my heart that I would be alright.
Thyroid cancer was do-able. I knew I could get through it.
The music carried me and kept me strong and focused.
After a very successful surgery , I was not able to sing for 5
months but slowly I began working with my voice again.
My voice had changed a little but it didn't bother me.
It was like being re-united with a most beloved friend.
I was re-connected to myself, to my expression, to the world.
In May of '98 , my music partner, Steve Murphy and I were
able put the finishing touches on our second recording project "
From Where You Are "
And I was able to sing the final vocal for the record.
It's a version of John Lennons " Across The Universe "
That song embodies the thoughts and emotions , the journey, of my
Sloan Wainwright - (Lennon) Across the Universe
From Where You Are - www.sloanwainwright.com/
Ulbrich - Kidney failure and stroke
Carla suffered a stroke years ago after suffering with kidny trouble.
spent many months medicated and in hospitals and sent me an explanation
of her troubles. I asked if I could read it on air.....and asked if she
would suggest a song to follow her words... she wrote...."sure you can
just bread my paragraph about kidneys on the air :) .." adding:
I struggle with chronic kidney disease, which at one point led to a
stroke, after which i had to relearn the guitar. i do have periods of
remission when my kidneys work
i am not on a transplant list, have not ever been on dialysis. i have
gone into kidney failure 3 times, but never dropped below 30% function.
dialysis and transplant are for folks
with 20% function or less. my dad is on dialysis. what to air...
how bout i narrow ir down and you pick whatever goes best with the rest
of the set:
Carla Ulbrich -I have to kill you now
Professional Smart Aleck - carlau.com
10. Stefan De Lauriers - is an
author and songwirtier who has coped
with Parkinson's for over 13 years.
Stefan wrote to the folk dj list:
"I don’t consider having Parkinson’s to be a tragedy. When I wrote my
autobiography, “Symphony in A Flat Tire,” I made no mention of it. I do
not want to be known as an artist who has Parkinson’s, but it is pretty
obvious from my shaking that I have something going on. I have
written some songs about dealing with illness, having an inside
perspective. If these can be of value I offer them to the folk
community. In an ideal world I would like my work to stand (or fall) on
its own merit.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in November 1994. At the time
I was working as a photographer and couldn’t figure out why I was
knocking over tripods. When I learned my diagnoses I phased out
photography and phased in my music career, which I had neglected for
fifteen years. I picked up my guitar and was sad that my dexterity had
been lost in my left hand. For two years from that time when the
medicine kicked in I could play well.
I started writing songs again, and in two years my repertoire went from
about fifteen ‘good’ songs to fifty. I started making CD’s, playing
coffeehouses, and sold my CD’s at the gigs. Having Parkinson’s gave me
a unique perspective on the suffering people go through, and I tried
always to have a positive perspective. So far I have produced three
CD’s, which have been aired on a number of the posting folk djs radio
At this time I’m no longer able to play guitar and sing. A year ago I
was planning to make one last CD but for a number of reasons it didn’t
happen. It is hard to justify producing music when you can’t go out to
promote it. For the last six months I’ve been trying too get two of my
best songs recorded, but both the producers that agreed to help me are
very busy. I’m still determined though.
I still go to the local open mic, which is one block away, once a month
and read my stories.
The song I will play of Stefans is called Carousel Wind, sung by Chris
Stefan says: Someone suggested I write a song about my dealing with
disease. So I envisioned myself as a medieval troubadour prematurely
paralyzed on his merry way. Progressing from the open stage to the
dungeon and the ultimate tower is symbolic not only of man’s personal
pursuit but of mankind’s quest for enlightenment.
The singer just graduated
from Montclair State University and teaches in an elementary school. He
also teaches piano. He is also a songwriter.
Chris Alan - (Stefan des Lauriers ) Carousel Wind
Messenger's Lament - Music Kingdom - http://www.myspace.com/carouselwind
You can listen to his four minute "Symphony in A Flat Tire"
11. Penny Nichols -
I am sending you two songs from my new CD the 8 Voyages of
These are the basic tracks, just guitar and vocal, but I think they
represent the intent of the CD very well. The 8 Voyages of Nep is
project that grew out of my 8 chemo treatments for breast cancer in
2005. It is a book/CD project that will be finished and ready for
distribution in March of 2008. While I was in chemo, I wrote 8
to accompany my treatments for the benefit of my support group. I
the metaphor that going through chemo is like taking a long adventurous
sea voyage. So the essays were titled "The First Wave, The Second
Wave, etc.." When the project is finished, it will include the 8
essays as well as some water colors that I painted to illustrate the
journey and a commentary on the essays which tell the medical story,
what was actually happening, while I was in chemo. Along with the
songs that I wrote about healing and the cancer experience.
The point of the book/Cd project is for women or men going
through chemo treatments to have some good music to listen to, some
healing music, and also to see what I was going through, the medical
treatment, and what I did with that information; the essays. I
that it is very important for people going through the cancer
experience to understand what a mind game the whole thing is.
do with your mind around cancer is important for the healing process
because when your mind is at peace, your body can heal much more
quickly than if you are in a fight or flight response state.
opinion. I will be donating a portion of the profits from the
the 8 Voyages to cancer research.
I wrote the Pumpkin Field a year before
cancer diagnosis. I believe that some of the songs I write are
commentary on things that haven't happened yet, and this song is surely
one of those.
Levon Helm - throat cancer
Penny Nichols - The Pumpkin Field - CD the 8 Voyages of Nep,
coming out in March of 2008. www.pennynichols.com
Iconic drummer and singer in The Band, is back with a miracle of
an album, as he suggests in his liner notes. Helm almost lost his
life to throat cancer a few years back. He
most assuredly lost his voice. So the fact that he is singing at all is
significant. His daughter Amy sings on the release. The release
seems to take him back to 1940s when he was born in Arkansas, after
playing all those years electrifying
dylan with The Band.
Levon Helm with daughter Amy Helm and Teresa Williams and larry
campbell - (Laurelyn Dossett) Anna Lee 341
Dirt Farmer - Vanguard
13. Gypsy Soul is the duo of Cilette
Swann (singer/lyricist) and Roman Morykit (producer/writer)
soulful, acoustic rock with Celtic and Americana roots sound.
Cilette has been diagnosed with a unique Thyroid Disease (multi-nodular
tumor) that has affected her quality of life for five years. After many
tests and Specialist's visits to the tune of $20,000+ out of pocket,
Cilette is still struggling with her ailment and needing to keep her
immune system strong, especially when on the road. She is dedicated to
healing herself not only though her connection with her songs and
audience, but to finding a balance between alternative and allopathic
medicine. Their heartfelt music has a healing, inspirational quality.
their latest CD, "Beneath The Covers: A Rediscovery."
Cilette Swann/Roman Morykit - Who
Superstition Highway - sypsysoul.com
14. Grace Griffith - diagnosed
[suggested for inclusion by many
VandeWiele WFHB Community Radio, Bloomington, IN]
From the Washington Post
Thursday, April 1, 2004:
Grace Griffith says Parkinson's
disease inspires her
songs of love, appreciation of beauty and deep connections with people
and things around her. Grace
said: "The peculiar thing for me was that I was diagnosed with
disease when things were really coming together for me. I had found my
stride and had a confidence that I hadn't had before. I
had a lot of opportunity for travel and promotion and recording, and
it happened at the same time, limiting what I could do. And amazingly,
it's okay that way. For the most part, I think I am very lucky."....
Grace Griffith - Kind Friends and
Minstrel Song -
15. ERIC Lowen - Lou Gehrig's Disease [ALS]
"The team, "We Belong Together...for
Eric Lowen," is a Minneapolis website and organization walking in
the fight against ALS. "In particular, we are uniting to show
our support for Eric
Lowen, who was diagnosed with ALS in March of
Eric Lowen is the co-writer of the songs, “We Belong,” made popular by Pat
recorded by David Lee Roth and "You Don't Have To Go Home Tonight" performed by The Triplets. Eric sang the theme song to the
situtation comedy Hello Larry and is the screetching, clucking voice of the giant fighting chicken seen
on the animated series Family
Guy. Eric and songwriting/performing partner,
Dan Navarro, make up Lowen
& Navarro. The folk rock duo celebrated 20 years of
performing together in August of 2007.
Lowen and Navarro - (Bob Calilli, Michael Lookofsky & Tony Sansone
) Walk Away Renee [made popular by the band The Left Banke in 1966 ]
Hogging the Covers - www.lownav.com/
16. U Utah Phillips - Heart weak
and Cheyne-Stokes respiration
has decided to cease all touring due to ill health. Utah's
heart has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer travel, so
cease all touring. However, he has started a podcast to talk and sing
Utah Phillips Intro - Rosalie Sorrels - (U.Philips)
I Think of You - Starlight on the rails - AK PRess, Daemon
Records [61 songs 281 minutes!!]
Although Rosalie Sorrels seems to be in good health now, in the
past she was not so lucky. In 1988 she endured a cerebral
aneurysm. In May of 1998 she had a mastectomy. Currently she
suffers from the ailment that affects much of the elder generation,
arthritis, a condition that seriously hurts her guitar playing
At this moment, she is in recovery from breast cancer. She had
chemotherapy in the year 2000.
Troy -Guitarist, Singer/Songwriter - 2x
Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Survivor, 10 Years, from Somerset, MA
Diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1998, Michael released
Whispers In The Wind which garnered critical praise. After the release
of his second CD, Romancing the Moon, in 2004, Michael was diagnosed in
2005 with a recurrent case of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. After receiving
chemotherapy treatments and a bone marrow transplant by stem cell
replacement, his own, Michael is once again cancer free and back on
tour. Now cancer free, he is celebrating his journey performing at
clubs, coffeehouses and festivals throughout the country, winning a
variety of songwriter's contests along the way.
I wrote Michael asking if he
were willing to share about his illness. He wrote back:
"As you say, illness can
define and control your life, and in such a way that's not visible to
others. How can they understand what they can't see, Like, "Oh you look
great, why don't you this or that", when inside your broken. Your inner
strength is weakened to that of someone twice your years. My personal
history, so you know, In "98" lymphoma, and six rounds of
chemo, "CHOP", was the battery of drugs. Then a relapse in 2005, and 2
rounds of CHOP and a bone marrow transplant. That was
two and a half
years ago and only now am I'm feeling strong enough to think that
can pick up the peace's and possibly move forward while all the time
I've been telling people when asked, "I fell great", because, what's
the point. How can they understand what they can't see, touch, or
feel. I am a Husband, a Father, a Son, a Brother, ect. who
happens to be a
A wonderful friend told me once that musicians are,"Doctors of
soul, and are necessary for the spiritual well being of the
population". I have taken that to heart.
I think the song on that compilation is,"The Love Song", If So, It was
written while going through Chemo in January"99". My wife would
kiddingly," Oh, you write songs for all your friends, you've written
about Wally, Louie, ect. You never wrote a song about me. At the time I
thought, I might die soon, and that I needed to tell her in a song so
she would have something of me to hang on to. Looking back, I needed to
think that she would keep me with her until we meet again.
Michael Troy -
Romancing the Moon - www.FolkMichaelTroy.com
The above is also include on a realease about cancer called "Im
Too Young for This" http://cdbaby.com/cd/stepsforliving2
Also on the compilation is the last guest, who played live in the
18. LAURA HIGGINS - Pianist, Singer/Songwriter, Hodgkins Lymphoma Survivor,
7 Years, High Bridge, NJ
As a 19 year old college student, she was
diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma after nearly 18-months of clinical
Laura began writing songs after her diagnosis.
After 3 years in remission, Laura was nominated as "best new
singer/songwriter" by the Boston Music Awards and proceeded to garner
critical praise for her music, which has been described as "a unique
mix of girlish wisdom and womanly experience, the combination of which
challenges the nature of ballad with concise lyrics and a rare sense of
emotion that is as real as it is effective." Originally from Warren,
NJ, Laura has a growing fan base and two acclaimed albums which are
rapidly putting her on the map.
For more information about Laura Higgins, visit MySpace.com/LauraHiggins
From the studio and from her release Mr. Confidence she sang:
18. Your Sympathy
19. Everlasting Arms
20. All That It Seems
21. Dear Ophelia
22. Mr. Confidence
23. You Wont Fall
In closing.....From Chritine Lavin:
Here's a funny story about illness you could use -- this is true -- an
old friend of mine worked at the reference desk at the Rockefeller
University medical library. A woman came in one day, spent hours
hours going through books before approaching the librarian to ask for
help. She said, "I have searched and searched and searched and
find any information on a specific illness. Do you know where I
find information on 'Beatlemania'?" The librarian could see the
woman was serious, so she didn't laugh in
her face, but said to her, "Oh I don't believe that's a real illness."
And the woman said, "Yes it is! It's what killed Elvis Presley!"
True story. You can't make this stuff up. - Christine
Folk Plus is a SING OUT! magazine Radio
to all well wishers with my curret battle with neurotoxic
poisoning and chemical sensitivities (http://pagewebberink.com/~angie/)
Life is not measured by the number of
we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. (jrw)
PO Box 797
New York 12748 (845) 482-4141 wjff
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