I was the eldest of 3 daughters (with a much older brother away from home) in what was quite a disrupted family unit. I have wonderful, loving parents but as with many families, a lot of separation and drama unfolded in my youth which left me a deeply nervous, sensitive child. I struggled greatly with my self-worth and harboured an enormous fear of the world generally. I suffered chronic, sickness inducing anxiety in most areas of life, but singing was always my salvation, it was where I felt at home, belonging, connected to something larger, and of great worth.
Puberty and early teenhood was an extremely strenuous time at home. My parents had separated in a very disharmonious way and my mother had remarried into a dynamic I found incredibly challenging. The impact of some of the unpleasant things that had happened stayed with me and I had absorbed a lot of fear and repressed anger.
I studied a degree in music, qualifying with a 1st class BA. I had sung professionally in bands from age 15 but after my degree I dove head first into music, discovering myself as an artist and birthing my own electro disco band alongside working in retail and as a wedding singer to support myself.
We as artists put so much of our identity and self-worth into our music. This has been my journey – coming through this and out the other side – recognising that showing up unapologetically as my true self is the most incredible achievement I could ever aspire to. When we know who we are, and we are simply expressing this in our music with NO other motive than to move and be moved, we are untouchable, and life is rich, vibrant and free.
Community has been a fundamental part of my self-development. The way my community came together for me when I was diagnosed with cancer at 26 was astounding. I had no idea I was so loved. It was actually very difficult to receive, as it didn’t align with my deeply buried irrational views of myself as such a terrible person. This kind of acceptance and support gave me the strength to look past my wounding and really find out who I was and learn to love myself the way these other people did, which in turn, saved my life.
There were times where I received nasty judgment from individuals in the music community for showing up so publicly with cancer and owning my journey, allowing it to be my greatest gift to self-discovery, and that hurt, a lot. Following this, I took myself away from the public for most of this year, feeling all of my old wounds begin to open and nursing myself through them, but after some time it only served to teach me a deeper level of compassion and becoming centred within myself, not seeking validation outside.
Being in tune, feeling others, being part of a unity, is where I feel most at home, most comfortable. I feel the expression of another and I dance with them through rhythm and melody. My challenge in life and on stage, has been in remaining in my own centre within this sea of different expression. I have been a musical and human chameleon for much of my life and I’m just now discovering who I truly am so that I don’t so much get ‘swept up’ in this dance, and gracefully place each step with purpose and clarity, anchoring life and music into something tangible.
Having just come out the other side of a mad 3 year cancer and self-discovery journey and becoming pregnant almost immediately – despite being told I would never have children! – I am ready to put all I have learned throughout this into an epic creative project and movement which promotes individual Truth and – courageous expression of this – in the face of whatever challenges life throws at us. For me this begins with a single launch and music video of my song Courage which will encompass my journey, my pregnant-ass self delivering the song in a very expressive way, and other courageous individuals in their own expressions of Truth. I’ll be launching this in December, shortly after birthing my real, human, baby, and I couldn’t be more excited and confident about this and the magic I already feel it will bring both individually and collectively.
Words: Abi Flynn
Photo: Lisa Wormsley