Straight from the Heart

Straight from the Heart: With a boost from local musicians, Arts for Life makes healing tunes for ailing kids
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There is power and resiliency in the sound of a child’s heartbeat, and a new initiative by Asheville-based nonprofit Arts for Life harnesses that force and puts it to important use. Spearheaded by musician and music teacher Melissa Hyman, the Heartbeat Sessions collaborate with pediatric patients and their families. A recording is made of a child’s heartbeat using a digital stethoscope, and then local musicians come together to record a song of the child’s choosing, using their heartbeat as a key sonic element.

The Heartbeat Project: Jesse from Erin Derham on Vimeo.

The Heartbeat Sessions “create a one-of-a-kind, deeply personal and meaningful musical experience for our young patients,” says Rachel Zink, executive director of Arts for Life, which brings music, art, and creative writing into children’s hospital rooms. “Plus, it gives our incredible local musicians an opportunity to bring the healing power of music to children who need it most—and that’s medicine like no other.”

Patients get to witness the recording sessions, which are documented by History Boutique Films, and Echo Mountain Recording donates the studio time. The project’s first two sessions—including a moving cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—are completed, with more on the way. A June 14 live event in Asheville will celebrate the endeavor.

Hyman attributes the project’s strong start to its collaborative nature. “Everyone can immediately connect to the need and purpose behind it,” she says. “It’s like a giant hug from a lot of people.”

HEARTBEAT SESSIONS LIVE: A Musical Performance & Community Art Show
Wednesday, June 14
6:30-8:30 p.m.; free/all ages
The Mothlight
701 Haywood Rd., Asheville

Photographs courtesy of Arts for Life