Since I attended my first SB&H meeting in Toronto as a 19 year old Brock Music major from Niagara on the Lake, my life has grown and shifted in ways that I never could have imagined. I’ve conquered some incredibly steep and slippery slopes, and have been places and seen things that most people can only read about. I truly feel blessed, and overwhelmingly grateful. Knock on wood that my luck continues in health and wellness through 2013 and the years that follow. The experiences and beautiful people I have met and had the pleasure of knowing have continuously inspired me to use my art and musical ability in a positive way.
I never expected that going to the SB&H Annual Meeting to receive my scholarship could inspire me in a way that would define me as a person and my relationships with the people I met. The experiences of that day provided me with the mindset and a firm belief that a powerful lyric together with a great melody can give people something to believe in. The magic of music and the positive impact it can have on someone’s well-being has truly been a motivator for me.
“The Simple Things”, a song I co-wrote while sitting at that meeting, has been heard live, and on the radio in several countries around the world. It has become a foundation for much of my writing and artistry, both as a band member and individual. Since writing, releasing and touring with my band, “Mrs. Johnston” to promote “The Simple Things”, and our two records, life has been very busy.
This past June, I graduated from Brock with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Music and Vocal Study. I teach voice lessons three nights a week in Niagara Falls as I have been doing for the past two years.
In my attempts to raise awareness of hydrocephalus and spina bifida, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at local Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Gyro Clubs as well as some local schools and churches. I also attend the local SB&H social gatherings that are held monthly in Niagara. On a larger scale, I’ve gotten involved with the International Federation for Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida (IF International), located in Brussels, Belgium. I have had the pleasure of attending their international conferences in each of the last two years as the Young Ambassador from Ontario in an effort to strengthen Canadian relations with hydrocephalus and spina bifida work being done in Europe and Africa.
Being a bid supporter of the overseas humanitarian work of U2 and Bono in particular, the work I do for IF is really special to me as it allows me to connect a couple of my passions, music and humanitarian work to help maintain or improve the lives of those living with hydrocephalus and/or spina bifida. From Toronto to Kampala, Uganda it’s incredible to see how my brothers and sisters with hydrocephalus and/or spina bifida don’t just survive, rather they rise up and thrive.
The long and short story of these past 6 years, is that keeping myself busy hasn’t been a problem…keeping my sanity intact, well that’s a different story.
In the coming years, I look forward to continuing my pursuit of “Music Therapy” for myself, via songwriting and education. I’ve been juggling the idea of going back to university for a second degree in Music Therapy, but I have also thought a great deal about teacher’s college. I’ve always loved teaching, and would be very happy to be that “hip”, high school music teacher someday. Regardless of the roads I travel, or the direction my life takes, I am more confident than ever that “everything happens for a reason.”
I found my gift in music years ago. However, it is only recently that I have truly begun to define my musical ability and found the reason why I was blessed with a voice. I’m working hard to find a way to create a path that allows me to connect my passion for music and writing with activism in support of hydrocephalus and spina bifida. I feel closer every day, to discovering where the road leads. But for now, I’m doing all I can and enjoying the ride.