“In 2012, I applied to be a speaker for TEDxStJohns. I’ve always been a fan of TED talks and I wanted to be a part of the locally organized event in my home city. In classic Kathy style, I applied the day after the submission deadline. The organizers wrote me to say that my speaker submission was too late to be considered, but they wanted to know if I had an original song that might fit the evening’s theme; Overcoming Adversity.
I didn’t…so I wrote one.
While my six year old son played outside in the backyard, and my toddler took a nap in his room, I sat on my couch and I wrote. I wrote line after line, imagining the struggles my ancestors faced hundreds of years ago, and the adversities they overcame while raising children and making life work on a rugged island in an unforgiving North Atlantic climate. Within a half an hour, I was humming the melody line and before the hour was up, the song was completed. I recorded it on my dated computer and sent it in. They liked it, they picked it, and a few months later I was performing it on the stage of the historic Majestic Theatre in downtown St. John’s during the province’s first independently organized TED event.
As a married twenty-nine year old mother-of -two, living my dream as a singer-songwriter in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I hadn’t experienced much adversity. I had no idea that six months after that performance, I would be sitting in a tiny doctor’s office, being told that I had cancer. Over the next year, I would face the greatest adversity of my life as I fought to survive illness, fear, anxiety, chemotherapy side effects and a host of unknowns. Eventually I was cancer free. I wish I could say that life went back to normal, but it took a few years to get my bearings again. In the midst of it all, a song I had written in less than an hour, on the comfort of my living room sofa, transformed into an anthem for cancer survivorship that I had no idea it could or would become.
In 2014, I sang, “Overcome” at The Hope Ball, a Cancer Centre fundraising event, joined by members of The Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, playing a beautiful score created by orchestra director, Brian Way. Later that same year, I performed, “Overcome” and shared my story of overcoming adversity at Holy Heart Theatre as the opening act for New York Times Best Selling Author, Gabrielle Bernstein. I’ve had the privilege of performing, “Overcome” at countless fundraising events, retreats and conferences, supporting organizations like Young Adult Cancer Canada and the Daffodil Place.
In 2018, in the midst of an intense season of growth and change, I decided it was time to record the song that had brought me and others so much comfort and joy. I made plans to create my first album. I launched a IndieGoGo campaign to help get things started, and through the incredible and generous efforts of my beautiful community, I was able to get the ball rolling.
A lot of monumental things happened during the year of recording. My ex-husband and I reconciled our marriage and renewed our vows, my children experienced some peaks and valleys of their own, and when the recording was almost complete, I got very sick with an illness that caused both of my ear drums to rupture, deafening me for weeks and stifling my performing career for months. Ninety percent of the album was completed when this tragedy struck. The only song I had left to record was, you guessed it, “Overcome.”
In true adversity overcoming fashion, I recorded the album’s title track, “Overcome,” while partially deaf, in pain, and uncertain of my future in the music and performance industry. It was an extremely challenging time, but it was also, oddly, perfect. I’m still recovering but I’m getting there.
My debut album, Overcome, will be released in September, 2019. It has been a lengthy, emotional labour of absolute love. Through this process, I’ve discovered so much about who I am as a performer and as a person. I have sung through struggle, pain, and celebration. I have written about heart break, life, family, friends, recovery and becoming brand new. This album is near and dear to my heart and I hope that it will meet you exactly where you are. I hope the lyrics mean something to you. I hope the music comforts and inspires you. I hope that our shared human experience will connect us through these words and melodies. It is a daunting experience to share one’s art with the world, but I feel absolutely honoured to be doing this, with and for you.
Thanks so much for listening.