The healing power of music has long been recognised, Hans Christian Anderson remarked that: “Where words fail, music speaks.” This is the central idea behind LIV ON, a musical collaboration between Olivia Newton John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky.
The songs created for LIV ON are written for people going through a loss or through difficult times. The project draws on the healing power of music to influence and transform difficult or even tragic situations.
Multi-grammy awardee, Olivia Newton-John, conceptualised the project following the loss of her sister, Rona, to a rare form of brain cancer three years ago. Olivia says: “It was fast and shocking. I wrote a song for Rona, which was a wonderful way to for me to heal. I wanted to write a song and send it to her friends, as my way of coping.”
Olivia contacted Amy Sky, who had produced her album ‘Grace and Gratitude’, to work on the song, and the two got talking about music and grieving. They observed that there were no records aimed at helping people through grief, and the idea for LIV ON was born.
Enter Beth Nielsen Chapman, an award-winning singer-songwriter who had written the song: ‘Sand and water’ following the death of her husband, Ernest, in 1994.
The three artists each contributed their own songs to re-record for LIV ON, and got together to co-write original pieces for the album, recognising the power of music to help people live on through loss and grief.
Olivia shared that she had drawn on this power of music many times in her life, “any time I’ve gone through a loss.”
Olivia is a breast cancer ‘thriver’, having lived through her diagnosis and treatment over 20 years ago. During this time, she wrote a collection of songs that would eventually become her album: ‘Gaia’.
She said: “At the time, I thought I was going to retire, that I’d never produce another record, but before I knew it, I had written a whole album.”
The LIV ON project launched in October this year, comprising a digital and CD copy of the album, a website and candid video interviews where the stars share the stories behind the music.
When asked whether there had been positive reaction to the project, Olivia answered with an emphatic: “Yes!”
“We’ve received a lot of mail from people who have listened to the album,” she said “and people tell me in person, when they come and see me after my show (a residency in Las Vegas). It made people cry, but it also made them feel good.”
Speaking about the experience of working with Beth and Amy, Olivia said: “It was a wonderful experience, I love these women, they are like my sisters. They have both also been through extraordinary loss.”
Olivia, Beth and Amy each recorded one of their favourite songs for LIV ON. Olivia chose ‘Grace and Gratitude’, Amy chose ‘Forever Blue’, while Beth recorded ‘Sand and Water’.
All the songs on the LIV ON album, from the uplifting title track, to the haunting, heart wrenching chords of ‘Forever Blue’, came out an ethos of hope and of helping to heal.
“I hope that when people are listening to these songs, they know that they are not alone,” said Olivia. “That there is hope they will get through this and at some point they will live on.”
LIV ON is about inspiration. “I would like for this record to unite people in realising that they are not alone,” said Olivia, “that we will all go through (grief or bereavement) at one point in our lives. There are other people who have been through the same thing and survived.
“I hope that this brings solace and peace to some people. This CD is our way of doing that. I’m still here and I went through breast cancer. I’m still here and I appreciate life.”
LIV ON will tour Ireland and the UK in January 2017. In intimate gatherings in Dublin, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Olivia, Beth and Amy will perform an acoustic set of the songs from the CD. The trio will perform at The National Concert Hall, Dublin on Monday, January 23rd. The LIV ON team will partner with hospice and palliative care organisations in each city to raise awareness of the need for hospice and palliative care, including bereavement care.
Olivia laughs when comparing the plan for the relatively small-scale January shows with her current fabulous Las Vegas residency. “It will be a small acoustic set, not like a Vegas show,” she says. “But we would love people to come and hear the songs from the LIV ON CD.”
Olivia’s energy and boundless positivity brought LIV ON to life, and her international acclaim as a musician will ensure that the project has a universal appeal. Her personal story is sure to strengthen the bond with the public, bringing success to the LIV ON project and an essential lifeline to those going through a time of grief.
To find out more, visit the LIV ON website.