As a professional music therapist, Melou Stewart Cline knows the power of music to lift, to inspire, to help people through the hard times of life. "I often create music for specific situations, to fill special needs. So, I compose a lot."
She came up with an idea for a music collection with some of her own compositions and some by other musicians that would "reflect all the experiences in life, all the things human beings pass through, something that would include both beauty and sorrow. At some point, we all have to experience all that."
As she worked on the project, she shared a lot of the music with her father, D. Michael Stewart, a former Salt Lake County Commissioner and an inspiration in her life. His favorite songs, she says, were one called "Go 'Way From My Window," a traditional folk song that is rather sorrowful; and Ennio Morricone's "Nella Fantasia," sometimes known as "Gabriel's Oboe," with a joyful melody. "He loved that contrast. He loved that variety."
Then, her father passed away unexpectedly last October. "It was a profound and challenging experience," she says, and she found herself turning to the music again and again for her own peace and therapy.
"That turned this album into a personal epiphany, says Cline. I came across a song called "Some Things Are Meant to Be" from "Little Women," and that song allowed me to feel the pain, to let out the emotion that had been building. It was a beautiful experience. The powerful final statement of letting go helped me see the full essence of his life. I can let him go while feeling joy in the memories. I felt impressed to share the experience with others.
Her project became a CD titled "A Celebration of Life," dedicated to her father. She will debut the album at a free concert at the Salt Lake Public Library on Monday night.
"My father loved life to the fullest and had a unique way of expressing this love through music," says Cline. "My siblings and I were taught from an early age to become proficient in our musical talents. This first major solo concert is a direct result of my parents encouraging me in music."
As a musician, Cline has performed as a piano and vocal soloist in Washington, D.C., Virginia, California, Brazil and Europe. As a member of the Utah Chamber Artists, she was a vocal soloist in 2008 performances in London and Paris, and in 2010, she soloed with the Utah Symphony at the Deer Valley Music Festival.
She has also written, produced and performed on four previous albums and has collaborated on a number of other artistic projects with Jon Schmidt, Kurt Bestor and Merrill Jensen.
But this project has been special to her in many ways.
Her original compositions on the CD include a song called "Celebrating Gifts," which is a tribute to her father. At his funeral, she says, "I was amazed to see how many lives he touched. He was able to recognize the potential in everyone he met." Writing that song, she says, "showed me how much he played a role in who I am, in the music I am. It brought me a lot of joy."
Both her parents were supportive of her efforts, she says. "They were the ones who encouraged me to go back and get an advanced degree in music therapy. They also taught me to embrace 'come what may.' So much of my talent and gifts come from them."
As is true for everyone, she says. "I really think there is something for everyone in this collection, not only in different musical styles. Each song brings a different feeling, just as each experience in life brings a different emotion."
We all have talents, she says. "We must learn to recognize and strengthen not only our own gifts, but others' strengths as well." As her song reminds us: "Something good begins right here with me. I can spread hope. I can bring peace. I will share."
Melou Stewart Cline
When: Monday, June 13, 7 p.m.Where: Salt Lake City Main Library, 200 E. 400 SouthHow much: FreeWeb: www.MelouMusic.com
If You Go . . .
What: Melou Stewart Cline in concert
When: Monday, 7 p.m.
Where: Salt Lake City Main Library, 200 E. 400 South