The LifeSong Project works to preserve the memories and experiences of our elders and their family and community members in a way that makes an indelible imprint on both the heart and mind. It also strives to acknowledge and honor the voices of our ancestors and their contribution to our rich American history and human experience. By being asked to recount life experiences and having these narratives translated through songs, the individual is given the opportunity to view and acknowledge their life as a purposeful and exciting story of challenges, successes, hardships and joys. The family and greater community of the elderly are benefited by reinforcing the memory and legacy of their ancestors through a modality that is emotional and artistic.
It is no secret that music has a resounding effect on people of all ages. As our modern western society replaces oral tradition with our growing attachment to technology and media, important threads of our cultural fabric are disappearing. Oral tradition is dependent on memory. Research has shown that the rhythm and melody of music helps cement memories more firmly in the mind. The relationship between music and memory is powerful and has been used as an important mnemonic device for thousands of years. Epic stories like Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey were passed down verbally using poetic devices. Before these narratives were written down, they were chanted or sung. The structure of songs as well as the images and emotions that they provoke are what make them such a profound vehicle for salvaging the deeply personal and unique legacies of our modern every day heroes.
Here are some examples of songs Havilah has written for this project.
The process of this program entails meeting with people approximately 75 years of age or older individually for an hour or so to introduce the project and begin collecting any stories that they are willing to share. Then Havilah spends a few weeks on her own writing the basic idea and structure of the song. A second meeting is arranged in order to check in and edit the song together. Finally, Havilah records the song, provides the collaborator with a CD and credits the subject of the song as a co-writer.
The LifeSong Project has recently partnered with The Peaceful Presence Project to offer individuals who are nearing end of life transitions and their families this unique service of recording life stories and legacy through song. Please contact Havilah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-554-6452 to learn more and schedule a songwriting collaboration.