Hope and Healing Through Music
Five Questions With Amy Sky
I recently chatted with the inspirational and talented Toronto based musical artist and mental health advocate, Amy Sky. We discussed her latest album, Alive and Awake, and how it reflects her personal journey.
Amy Sky is an EMI recording artist, singer, songwriter, record producer, actress and television host. She is one of the most familiar voices on Canadian radio. Her songs have garnered her Juno, Socan, East and West Coast and Smooth Jazz award nominations. In addition to her own chart topping CDs, she writes for dozens of other artists, including Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Roch Voisine and The Rankins, to name a few. Her latest CD Alive and Awake is part of a multi-media project, including a newsletter and website of the same name, which incorporates music and the arts to promote holistic health.
Amy is an advocate and activist for mental health. Her dedication to helping others with mental illness and holistic health is extraordinary. In 2006, Amy went public about her personal struggles with depression and postpartum psychosis (a severe form of postpartum depression) which she experienced following the birth of her two children. Through her music and sharing her story publicly, Amy has literally saved the lives of people who had planned to take their own life due to mental illness. Amy notes, “If I can choose between doing music that gets applause, or music that saves lives, for me there’s no contest.”
Through her Alive and Awake album, Amy has made a commitment to help people cope with pain. “Millions of people go through this. It steals your life and it affects the entire family circle. I chose songs that explore the emotional aspect of facing a challenge.” The beauty of Amy’s music is that everyone can connect to it, regardless of one’s age, stage or challenge in life. Her powerful songs give people permission to feel pain, to grieve and to forgive- to feel a full spectrum of emotions, and above all – to have hope. Here is what Amy shared with me.
Your album Alive and Awake is filled with gorgeous songs and lyrics that echo messages of peace, hope, healing and love. Where did your inspiration for this album come from, and how did it all come together?
I was very intentional with my song choices. It is a project that took five years to incubate and then complete. After my last album, I took some time away from touring to be with my children. I focused instead on songwriting and producing, particularly for Olivia Newton John. In that time when I returned to recording myself, I decided I wanted to create an album that would make people feel supported, loved and lifted up. I wanted to reinforce the beauty of life. I was very particular about the lyrics for each song that would become part of this album.
Can you talk about any specific song or lyrics from the album that link to your own personal story of healing?
The album reflects my life journey. It starts off with the song Alive, which is about being helped through a vulnerable time by a loved one. For me, that was the unconditional love and support I got from my husband and my mother when I was going through post-partum depression. The album explores all of the different relationships one has, ending with Awake, which is about our relationship with ourselves, and an affirmation of our personal power. The Touch That Heals Me is a song on the album that addresses the power of love to help us when we are fragile. This song in particular illustrates how I am grateful for my family.
What do you feel is the overall message or theme of your album?
In a word: Hope. Depression is often described as the loss of hope. The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, an organization that I work with and support has the goal of restoring hope in people. That is the exact message that I want to get across. Regardless of the illness or the challenge, there is always hope that one can get well.
What are your goals for this album, and the other projects that connect to it, such as AliveAndAwake.com?
Musically, my goal for the album is to re-launch my live performing career. That will begin on May 12, 2013 with a show where I will interact in an interview with the audience in addition to singing. I want to continue the conversation about how we can bring balance into our lives with respect to self-care that supports mental and physical health. With my aliveandawake.ca newsletter and website, my goal is to provide information and a place where people can participate in this conversation. I want people to get involved.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five Canadians will experience a mood disorder in their lifetime. The remaining four will have a friend, family member or colleague who will. Why do you think there is still so much stigma around mental health, and what can people do to help eradicate it?
News anchor Lloyd Robertson spoke at an event not long ago about his recent autobiography. He talks about his career covering the major news events of the past four decades. He said with all of the interesting stories he discusses in the book- hands down, the number one question people ask him is, “What was it like growing up with a parent who had mental illness?” People want to engage in the conversation because so many have personal experience with these issues. The arts are both a beautiful way to express ourselves, and a way to bring balance and beauty into our lives. We all need to continue the conversation and create awareness. We are all connected and in this together.
Lisa Cantkier has been living gluten-free since her diagnosis of celiac disease as a toddler. As a health and wellness writer with a special interest in holistic nutrition, she enjoys researching and educating others about celiac disease and gluten-free living. Lisa is the founder of GlutenFreeFind.com and a co-founder of GlutenFreeSmartStore.com.