Power of song
One woman’s journey from from car crash to album of the year success
IT was when she was lying on her settee in severe pain and wondering if she would ever walk again after a car accident that Elaine Lennon wrote her first ever song.
Despite her fears for the future, fighting back from breaking her pelvis in two places and suffering spine damage, Ms Lennon, who had only been married a matter of months, completed the song, then wrote another, and just kept writing.
She had to give up her job in human relations due to physical incapacity and spent years working with physios to build up her strength to enable her to function.
Eventually, she and her husband Rikki – whom she met when she was teaching him saxophone lessons – looked at the possibility of Ms Lennon pursuing her passion in music.
Her younger son was starting school in 2018 and she could no longer ignore creating music, her lifetime passion.
With only one or two friends in the music scene and no experience in writing or performing professionally it was a daunting decision, but a strong desire to share her songs prevailed.
Determined, she set up as a sole trader, established her Little Sailor Record label and in January this year, released her self-titled debut album with a sell-out launch gig during Celtic Connections in Glasgow.
Now the album has won the 45-yearold from Cumbernauld the first-ever Album of the Year award from Glasgow-based Celtic Music Radio, the community station run by music-loving volunteers.
“I am really, really pleased about this, especially as so many other great albums were released this year,” said Ms Lennon.
“The album was the station’s first Album of the Week in 2020 and is now its first Album of the Year, and that feels so very special.
“My thanks go to Celtic Music Radio – the presenters have all been fantastic, so supportive and helpful, and I will always appreciate that.
“My huge thanks, too, to everyone who voted in the poll for the record. This means so much to me.”
Her success was revealed at the end of a four-hour Album of the Year Show on Celtic Music Radio at the weekend by presenter, Liz Clark.
“It was a terrific year for new music despite the pandemic so listeners had a tough choice,” said Ms Clark.
“Elaine’s album is a worthy Album of the Year winner.
“It is a marvellous collection of songs, beautifully crafted and delivered, and quite remarkable for a debut release. We are so pleased for her as she is a lovely person and her live performances are not to be missed.”
The album covers a range of topics close to Ms Lennon’s heart – family history, messages to her two sons, a respectful nod to other musicians before her in her family as well as a song “By Your Side” for her mother, who had a major influence on her musically.
Ms Lennon, a winner of a Danny Kyle Open Stage award at Celtic Connections in January 2019 and rated as “one to watch” by Nashville Songwriters’ Association International, said originally the songs were written for no-one to hear.
“They were a form of therapy for me, a release and an avenue for me to express my feelings without having to speak to anyone, if that makes sense,” she said.
“If it doesn’t sound too corny, these songs were little chunks of my soul – that’s what this record is, totally.”
She has always been attracted to great melodies intertwining with stories that hook her in, demanding they be listened to over and over. “I love songs that speak to me, make me laugh and cry, remind me of something dear, carry a powerful message or inspire me.
“I love songs that feel real and are fearlessly from the heart.”
Earlier this year she released a sublime single titled Uncharted Waters, written to acknowledge and chart her feelings about the pandemic lockdown.
Then she realised they were the exact same feelings she had gone through when her son, Chris – only six at the time – was diagnosed with a tumour on his back.
Ms Lennon decided that all proceeds for the single’s sales should go to University Hospital, Wishaw, Paediatrics Ward.
“This was where Chris was treated to remove what thankfully turned out to be a benign tumour, so I wanted to offer something in return,” she said.
The single, not on the album, was critically acclaimed and, since its
August release, it has had over 22,000 plays worldwide in 59 different countries on Spotify alone.
One album track Little Bird Little Sailor was written for her sons and she says it’s all about the need to keep trying, never giving up.
“There have been jovial, bed-time arguments about who is Little Bird and who is Little Sailor – but to me they are interchangeable,” she said.
Having appeared live in prestigious venues such as The Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow and the world-famous Bluebird Café in Nashville, she is now hooked on performing live.
“Getting out in front of people is wonderful and so important though that’s not been possible for most of this year,” she said. “I’m addicted to performing live so I can’t wait to gig again.”
It is a marvellous collection of songs, beautifully crafted and delivered