The LIV ON project was conceived out of the desire to transform my grief into healing. My sister, Rona had just died of glioblastoma and I was suffering greatly from her sudden death. I’ve always turned to music to process my emotions and help heal my heart.
So to help me write and record a special song in memory of Rona, I asked longtime friend and extremely talented singer-songwriter Amy Sky, for support. Amy had already co-written and produced my “Grace and Gratitude” album, which was a recording that marked a previous tumultuous passage in my private life.
Ironically, Amy was also coping with loss. Her father had died of Parkinson’s disease and her mother had recently passed away from cancer. She helped me finish and record Rona’s song and I sent it to my family and friends as a way of sharing my feelings about her loss. I’ve always found it easier to do this through music.
Many friends asked for more music like that, but I was still raw from the loss of my older sibling and unable tofocus on anything much. Music, poetry, drawing and painting became an outlet for my emotional roller coaster. Creativity played an important role in helping me cope with my overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief.
I remember calling Amy one day and although she lives in Canada and we see each other rarely, we easily pick up the threads of each other’s lives and weave in the missing gaps. True friendship is like that.
We were discussing making an album of music to heal grief …a follow-up to “Grace and Gratitude,” when I thought of asking Beth Nielsen Chapman to join us. Beth is a longtime friend and a truly gifted singer-songwriter from Nashville who’s recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Amongst her enormous contributions to music and song writing, Beth has written a stunning song called “Sand and Water” penned after the passing of her husband to cancer.
I had performed Beth’s song, as had Elton John — in fact right after September 11, when the world’s grief waspalpable. I could barely get through it.
Shortly thereafter, Amy and I discussed how wonderful it would be if we could have Beth as part our project.
Little did I know that Beth was actually already partaking in and performing at grief conferences. Amy and I felt she was the perfect person to make up this trio, so we asked Beth and she agreed!
We wrote the songs for LIV ON over three opportunities where we could get together, no small feat considering our crazy schedules. The songs flowed out of us like water, easily and freely, as we worked our way through our own stories of loss… with many tears and much laughter.
We found that any time we shared a vulnerable part of us,
we felt such an overwhelming feeling of kinship
and relief that we wer not alone with our pain.
We hope these songs that came from the depths of us, will offer a place of comfort to others.
“Live On” was perhaps the hardest song to write, as it was intended to also be a fundraising and awareness theme song for my hospital: The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness Research Centre (http://www.onjcancercentre.org) in Melbourne, Australia.
The ONJ Centre has been my dream and passion for the last ten years. To be able to create a song to encourage people to share their Liv On journey of hope, thriving and remembering for the Liv On website is a dream come true.
Having survived breast cancer in 1992 and thriving ever since, this musical journey has been an amazing gift…one that I am so grateful for.