Exactly one year on from her breast cancer diagnosis, highly-lauded traditional performer Rachel Walker released a heartfelt new EP with singer and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Jones in aid of the cancer support charity Maggie’s*.
Released at the end of last month, A Happy Place is a collection of uplifting songs chosen specifically for their ability to invoke a spirit of hopefulness. The title itself is a reference to the healing power of music and the relief and joy of escaping cancer.
Rachel and close friend and collaborator Aaron wanted to pay tribute to the support and care Maggie’s gave Rachel during this challenging time. From online classes and support groups to one-to-one help, the Maggie’s Highlands Centre in Inverness was there for Rachel every step of the way. Along with a selection of traditional Scottish Gaelic tracks for which Lochaber singer Rachel is renowned, the EP includes a brand new English composition, Song of Hope. Written together by Rachel and Aaron, the song is directly inspired by Rachel’s personal experience of living with cancer and the support she received from Maggie’s while undergoing treatment.
Rachel said: “This EP, and Song of Hope in particular, is a tribute to Maggie’s and all the women I’ve met at the Highlands Centre also going through cancer and its treatment. I have learned that we’re stronger when we face this together and wanted this song to reflect this important sentiment that has got me through the last 12 months. The music is a thank you to all those who have helped me on my journey and the network of incredible women I met along the way. We hope it can be a comfort to others on a similar journey.
“I will never forget the warm welcome I received at Maggie’s, especially from cancer support specialist Eilidh Wilson who really took the time to listen and chat. Eilidh was at the end of the phone to listen to my worries and offer reassurance when I needed it and that support is truly priceless when faced with cancer.
“Recording the EP was a slow process, as we could only work on it when I felt well enough, so it’s feels all the more special to see it come together and to mark one year from my diagnosis with something so positive, focused on the healing power of music and its ability to help us escape to a ‘happy place’. We hope the release helps people talk about cancer and the support that’s available, while raising some valuable funds in the process.”
In addition to Rachel’s lilting vocals, the emotive five-track EP features Aaron’s vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitar and cittern. Elsewhere, bodhrán player Martin O’Neil also lends his skills to the track Càite Bheil i ann am Muile.
Aaron said: “Before and during the early stages of the pandemic, Rachel and I had struck up a very joyful and rewarding writing partnership which we had planned to develop and grow once we were able to get back together in person. When she received her diagnosis it seemed important to us both to maintain our regular writing sessions online to give us some escape. The power of music and the escape of creative flow has been an essential part, not only of Rachel’s recovery, but also my own journey through lockdown with a young family. We both felt very strongly that something positive should come from such difficult times and so releasing the tracks as an EP for Maggie’s was a no brainer.”
Maggie’s helps people take back control when cancer turns life upside down, with professional support for anything from treatment side effects to money worries. They also provide support to families of those going through a cancer diagnosis or treatment.
A Happy Place is available to download on BandCamp with all proceeds going directly to Maggie’s.
For more information please go to: rachelwalkerandaaronjones.com or visit their social media pages here:
For more information about Maggie’s please visit maggies.org