Lou and I together are COYOTE and we wrote, published and began performing a song called "Dead Girl Walking" in 2005. I wrote the song to "go first", to be brave enough to describe what it's like to be a cancer patient, to walk around with an advanced breast cancer diagnosis (I have been in remission since 2000) -- the ever-present threat that I've met the thing that may take my life. Truth be told, it follows us all. It's mortality. Uncertainty. No one gets out of here alive, after all. (Listen to our song "Five Minutes")
From the start, my experience with breast cancer bestowed unexpected gifts in backhanded ways. Through the memoir, our music, and Ray's film, I tell my story in hopes that it may be a hand in the darkness of a diagnosis of cancer. My journey delivered me to a side of the river I would never have seen without having had a life-threatening experience. "I am a woman who's finally, finally alive!"
(click for "Dead Girl Walking" lyrics & song)
I've been writing my story since I began to surface from the experiences. My impulse was to reach out to other women who face life-threatening illness. Specifically, advanced breast cancer ... in a young woman. I'm writing the memoir with some years of distance, digested thought, and from the lighted side of the tunnel. It's surprisingly uplifting, both to me and to the audiences who have heard the song or seen the film.
Ray Schmitt of Real Earth Productions heard our music while visiting Ocracoke from West Virginia. He bought our "Home To Me" recording, read about my story, listened to our music and emailed me. Back and forth all that day we corresponded and by day's end, had committed to do the film.
Lou and I live in Ocracoke, an island off the coast of North Carolina, the Outer Banks. During the summer we appear two nights a week at Deepwater Theater; Wednesday we are principal players in the Ocrafolk Opry and Thursday with Molasses Creek. In the spring and fall we tour as much as possible off the island, sharing our music, stories and experience with friends. In winter, we say we're going to do a hundred projects and end up busier than ever. "What do you do in winter there?" ... Create! We're "going National" with Molasses Creek, touring in support of our #4 (April 2012 Folk DJ Radio chart) and stretching our artistic legs in exciting new ways. Lou directs a jazz band and teaches dozens of island kids, privately and as the after-school music program teacher.
We enjoyed our 5 seconds of stardom in the Nicholas Sparks film "Nights In Rodanthe" starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. We were cast, along with some good friends, as the party band in the post-hurricane scene. We also made it onto the soundtrack in company with Emmylou Harris, Count Basie, Dinah Washington and The Dillards.
And like Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham (sort of) we are the newest members of Molasses Creek band, also of Ocracoke Island, NC. Click here for videos of the band in action!
I am a member of the American Cancer Society as a Reach To Recovery volunteer and Relay For Life participant/speaker. Call the ACS at 1-800-227-2345.
For more info about Ocracoke Island, visit:
Philip Howard's Village Craftsmen Blog Spot - MOST POPULAR and OLDEST Ocracoke Blog
Molasses Creek and Deepwater Theater & Music Hall Blog by Fiddler Dave Tweedie
www.ocracokevillage.com - All About Ocracoke
Photo at top of page: Marcy Brenner and "Dead Girl Walking" filmmaker Ray Schmitt in Toronto, Canada to receive the Amazing Grace Award at BreastFest Film Fest in Toronto, Canada