Memories and Music
By Jessica Ewy
“Where words fail, music speaks” ~ Hans Christian Andersen
Music is powerful. It has the ability to change your mood, bring you into the community with others and help you remember long ago moments lost by time and age. My life is full of memories associated with music. I have fun memories of my brothers and I singing along to the Everly Brothers, “You Lost That Loving Feeling” and each taking a turn with all the ‘Baby” lyrics. I remember the song “I Wanna Bop With You Baby” by Dan Seals being playing in our living room in the 1980s and watching my parents dance the night away. It also seems like yesterday that I was 15 years old and singing in the kitchen with my best friend, Aimee, we would use wooden spoons for microphones and practice our Judds act.
I especially remember the summer of 1992; I was 16 years old driving down County Line Road on a hot Oklahoma summer day in my Ford EXP. One day I was driving to my first job as a waitress at the local pizza place and Tom Cochrane, “Life is a Highway ” was blasting on the radio and I’m singing along, fully believing that I am invincible. I remember the peaceful feeling of an old hymn sung in church wrapped around me like a warm blanket and the excitement of a hit song at a concert. Music is truly amazing.
One of my most treasured moments though was in March 2020 before the world went crazy. I had the opportunity to visit my grandmother in Alabama. My grandmother is a beautiful singer. When she was younger she led the choir in her little Baptist Church and she was also a part of a gospel trio called the Graceful Heirs. Her little trio traveled all over Tennessee and Alabama singing the beloved hymns in small Baptist Churches.
I always remember my Grandmother singing when I was little and she always sang the alto part. I remember one specific Sunday we were in Alabama visiting when I was 14 years old and my mother had mentioned to my grandmother how she loved it when she sang “Old Rugged Cross.” That sunny Sunday morning at Weeden Heights Baptist Church my grandmother sang that song for my mother. I remember sitting in the pew, with the sunlight streaming through the stained glass, looking at my Grandmother and thinking how special this moment is. My mother sat crying while my Grandmother sang to her that song. Now, whenever I hear that song, it brings back that cherished memory.
I have memories of my grandmother helping me sing. Taking me to the store to buy accompaniment tapes (this was in the 1980s) and letting me be involved with her church. I got to sing solos on Sunday mornings and watch her lead the choir, many times I got to sit with the choir on Sunday mornings and go to practices with her on Wednesday nights.
My grandmother is 96 now and at this point in her life, she doesn’t remember these moments. Dementia has set in and memories come and go and faces are fading. However, she did remember my face when I walked in that morning in March 2020 and that was the most precious gift. While we were visiting one night, she was sitting in her chair as usual and I said, “Come on Grandma let’s sing.” Her eyes lit up and said, “Well I don’t think I can anymore, no one wants to hear this old voice.” Oh yes, we do Grandma.. The voice that soothed hearts, gave peace to tears, lifted up so many, we want to hear your voice. So, I grabbed my guitar and a hymnal book and started playing all the old songs. Her heart tuned right in and she was able to sing the lyrics, and her hands went up like she was leading the choir again. We sang all the greats; The Old Rugged Cross, How Great Thou Art, My Jesus I Love Thee, O How I Love Jesus, Christ Arose, and every verse to Amazing Grace. It was incredible to see and hear her singing and remembering.
That night was truly special. It has been almost a year and I haven’t been able to go back and visit her again. Every time I sing Amazing Grace though, I am transported back to the warm living room, sitting at the feet of my Grandmother, surrounded by my family and I hear her sweet voice again. Thank you Grandma for the gift of music in my life and the legacy of Gospel music that was sown deep into my heart through you. I am grateful to continue in your path as I am now the worship leader at my church. My husband Tim and I every Sunday put on our guitars, walk up to the microphone and sing praises to the Lord, just as you taught me to do.
About Jessica Ewy ...
Jessica Ewy, a DSA Board member is a singer, songwriter, actress, and director. Jessica and her husband are the acoustic duo, Jessica and Tim, they play locally in the DFW area and have been featured on the DSA singer-songwriter festival stages. Jessica is the worship leader at Renewed Life Church and leads worship for women’s conferences in the metroplex. Jessica’s film credits include; Bonnie Parker in the BBC Time Watch Documentary, “The Real Bonnie and Clyde” which airs on the History Channel and National Geographic, she was on the ABC pilot season of the Deep End, she played Kittie Wright in the sitcom Wright’s Direction and she has acted in several festival films.