Say What? – Cam on the Unifying Power of Music

Earlier this month, Cam gave an incisive NPR interview to Country Universe favorite Jewly Hight, in which the former psychology grad student shared her thoughts on the unifying power of music:

Did you know that when a choir sings, the [singers’] heartbeats all align? Music physically puts people in this space. And I see it when I sing. I see our faces looking at each other. Everybody’s in a moment, you know? Music is this way of communicating, soul to soul, what is going on. … In psychology you can even use music to prime people emotionally before you have them do tasks. It’s a great way to get at being sad or understanding a lot of those emotions. Exploring that is so helpful, trying to help all of us understand ourselves.

This quote is particularly apt this month, as we struggle to find a meaningful path forward after yet another senseless, horrific tragedy in Orlando. In such overwhelmingly dark times, I’ve been at a loss for words or thoughts that don’t feel like empty platitudes. Living overseas, I’ve also felt helplessly detached from the communities that are hurting. So I’ve turned to music.

Music hasn’t distracted or comforted me, though it’s done both at different points in my life; rather, it’s helped me feel connected to something bigger than myself, to a humanity that’s been frustratingly buried in the national discourse around the tragedy. In one of the better singles of the year, Maren Morris confesses that music is her portal to a higher power: “Yeah I guess that’s my church,” she growls about singing along to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. It’s mine, too.

Unsurprisingly, 2016’s leading female country artists have been my antidote over the past few weeks. I’ve yearned alongside Morris in “I Could Use A Love Song.” I’ve shared in Jennifer Nettles’ humility in “Salvation Works.” I’ve absorbed Brandy Clark’s exquisite blend of loss, anger and defeat in “Since You’ve Gone to Heaven.” Like a choir with a unified heartbeat, their expressions have lifted mine and given me an outlet that I simply couldn’t find elsewhere.

Share your stories below about the ways music has impacted you, and if you haven’t read the rest of Hight’s terrific interview with Cam, get to it.

7 Comments

  1. I can’t argue with what Cam said about the power of music. I would add to that that Linda Ronstadt has said a lot of the same things herself over the years about this subject, and she would know a thing or two. In truth, I think all of us who listen to music would agree with these sentiments. It would be even better, however, if more artists like Cam or Linda would follow this mantra (IMHO).

  2. I think artists do follow that mantra, and like it or not, ‘bro country’ brings people together.

  3. I am A songwriter. I wish diffrent types of music could find an av. in this old world, without going away. I am a lover of most all music. Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, Bing crobsy. Frank Sanatra, name most of the 60′ 70′ 80′ most gone. even the music we hear to day sounds like one song rolled it each other. some one is messing up the music today. listen to the songs today, don’t know when one song stops anothers begins.

  4. Can’t imagine a world without music. My wife and I are listening to Brandy Clark on our Bose (with 4 cd changer) along with Jennifer Nettles, Middleman-Burr and Adele. We’ve listened to music almost every morning for 2 or 3 hours for the 10 years we’ve been retired. It’s breakfast, macBooks and music. Music was one of the interests that brought us together. Our mothers met for the first time when we took them to a John Denver concert at Madison Square Garden in 1976. When we take long drives, we used to bring about 40 cd’s. Now it’s an i-pod.

    Read the Cam article. I’m a fan. Love her album.

  5. I will admit that I used to be an avid reader of this blog. In the last year I have come back every three months or so. I will admit I came back now because I feel like there are several great female records that have been put out in 2016, most recently brandy clark’s. As a gay man I am touched that the Orlando shootings can be mentioned here without political fall out. And that artists like brandy Clark are celebrated

  6. Last summer, there was a week of free concerts in the Boston Common. While Kasey Musgraves was the headliner for an early Friday evening concert, I could not attend that so I opted for a late afternoon performance by Cam. My office colleague had tipped me to her music. Cam sold me then and there, and I’ve been a fan ever since. She performed most of the songs, if not all of them, from her current album. She soared in popularity shortly afterwards. In a way, I first saw Cam when she wasn’t “CAM”, if you know what I mean. It was a wonderful concert. I expect more great things from her in the future.

  7. John H Turner Jr, I agree with you. I remember when you could hear Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, Ricky Scaggs, Linda Ronstadt, Anne Murray, Hank Williams Jr, Alabama, and George Jones, all on the same country station.

    Then you could turn over to the pop stations and hear Def Leppard, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Rabbitt, Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Air Supply, and the Rolling Stones all on those channels.

    I miss those days of variety.

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