May 19, 2023
Music is Medicine
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain” — Bob Marley
Music inspires bestowing the rhythmic lyrics which soothes the soul. Healing symphonies echo through our veins permeating our being and resonating something deep within us. Hypnotizing trances envelop and rejuvenate us. It is often said that music is medicine. The medians, musicians, whose gift channels those healing vibes can articulate emotions and experiences. The narratives they weave embrace universal truths which resonate and rejuvenate our souls…
Background and Influences
Ronnie Douglas, an Anishnaabe musician, released a solo CD titled Music is Medicine. It elicits a deeper connection with his roots. One of the gifts he’s been given is to play and sing!
“Music was the inspiration,” states Ronnie, about Music is Medicine. “It's what resonated with me since I was a child.”
Radio, records and family provided the backdrop and inspiration for Ronnie. Ronnie’s childhood memories are lovingly filled with music. His dad played the guitar while his mom sang. There was also listening to his older brother play the guitar. It was a musical environment that helped mold and create Ronnie’s love for music and motivated him to pursue a career in the artform. All in all, Ronnie says, “It's the way I'm wired.”
He recalls hearing songs like, How can you mend a broken heart, or Layla, on the radio. He also remember hearing groups like Tony Orlando and Dawn, Bread, Seals and Croft, Neil Young, 3 Dog Night and BTO, to name a few. These all contributed to Ronnie’s love for music and it extended to all genres: soul, funk, pop, folk, rock, etc.
As a teenager, rhythm and blues became an influential force for Ronnie. Musicians like Carlos Santana, Dwanye Allman, Eric Clapton, Dickey Bets, Rush, Johnny Winters, inspired and shaped Ronnie’s style of play.
On a deeper level, Ronnie soon realized some of the artists were talking about legendary blues greats like Muddy Water and Robert Johnson. A new layer began to unfurl for Ronnie as the artistry began to unveil its depths. Down the rabbit is how Ronnie described this revelation.
Then bam! SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) came onto the scene. As Ronnie put it, “Nobody was playing like that!” Another great guitar player to influence a young musical fledgling. Ronnie’s older brother, Larry, was still a primary influence though.
“Watching him play live was truly inspiring,” says Ronnie. “It was the real thing.”
This was one of the driving forces which led him to pick up a guitar and play. Larry also encouraged Ronnie to form his own band and with that off he went. Forming his own band was truly inspiring. Dave Hewitt, Peter Louden and Roly Platt formed the original core band.
The Inspiration for Music is Medicine
For 25 years Ronnie and his band performed throughout Central Ontario. Everything was going well with lots of gigs but things were about to drastically change after 2019. The perfect storm was manifesting as the pandemic struck and shut down the band. What else? Retirement, the band moving on, family challenges, and so forth. These conspired to guide Ronnie down a different path.
Headlines blared in March 2020 that everything was to be shut down to stop the spread of Covid.
“The Pandemic hit us hard!” Ronnie says. “No more performances.”
It was also at this point that some band members wanted to do their own thing. Sadly, the band was breaking up.
Ronnie recollects, “You become close friends so when the band broke up it was traumatic.”
It was at this time that Ronnie decided to retire. All in all, many changes occurred, and Ronnie wasn't sure if he would ever play Music again. It was during the lockdown that Ronnie started anew, picked up his instrument and, “began to play acoustic guitar, melodies emerged.”
“Then the dream came,” says Ronnie.
He was being guided to the rocks where a loon emerged and the Northern Lights danced across the sky singing. It was at this moment Ronnie contemplated creating a solo acoustic album.
While strumming the guitar and exploring, music started to come out. Something had awakened within Ronnie, tunes flowed, life experiences all coalesced into songs.
“There has to be a narrative that accompanies the music,” recounts Ronnie. His dream was morphing into reality.
Creating a solo CD was different from working with a band. When it comes to working as a band, there are many voices and inputs for making songs. Yet Ronnie acknowledges the complexity in the mixture of songs. Once completed, he realized its theme was love.
“You do have some help with a solo CD,” he says. “The end product was simplistic.”
As I, personally, sat back and listened to the music, the complexity in the simplicity became evident.
Ronnie also wanted to get people from the community involved and provide an opportunity for them. Ricky, a local musician, can play and compose, so Ronnie offered him an opportunity to perform on the CD. Ronnie’s wife, Leanne McRae, loves to sing — but not on stage — sang Helping Hand.
We have a shout out to Chief Lady Bird for illustrating Ronnie’s dream and to Kelsey Lewis for the CD layout. Steven Henry and Michael Jacks for mastering the CD, which Ronnie feels they captured the essence of the songs. As Ronnie puts it, “Sonically they bloomed.”
One Final Thought
Music is the language of the spirit.
It opens the secret of life bringing peace,
— Kahlil Gibran
An artist's journey into the depths of their soul and expressing those truths can be frightening, no matter the art form. Being vulnerable in expressing your truth opens new possibilities for the artist and the audience.
Listeners absorb the vibes filtering through and in some ways a healing journey begins to manifest. Music has always taken us on a journey. Its harmonies and melodies create the narrative to nourish our souls because Music is Medicine.
You can find Music is Medicine on:
· You Tube
· Apple Music
· It's also getting Radio Play!!
Art Work: Chief Lady Bird