Songs and storytelling to help nourish the soul

Anne Tracey and Roy Arbuckle, who will present an evening of shared song and storytelling next Friday at St Augustine's Hall within the city walls. (110512JC7)
Anne Tracey and Roy Arbuckle, who will present an evening of shared song and storytelling next Friday at St Augustine's Hall within the city walls. (110512JC7)

The healing powers of storytelling and song will hopefully shine through during a unique local gathering, ‘Chicken Soup and Songs for the Soul’, at St Augustine’s Hall on Palace Street next Friday, May 18.

This free event, following on from last year’s ‘Chicken Soup For the Soul’ and organised by Towards Understanding and Healing, will see two well-known local personalities present an evening of live music where all present can share stories of personal sustenance.

Local singer-songwriter and community arts worker Roy Arbuckle will team up with Anne Tracey, author and lecturer in the School of Psychology at the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, to present this fine evening of stories and song. Roy is the founding father of the Different Drums of Ireland project, which has graced stages from Derry to London and even the White House during Bill Clinton’s Presidency. Anne believes in the crucial importance of taking care of the self in order to maintain mental health and well-being. At this event, both Anne and Roy will be sharing something of their own life’s journey, how they have dealt with the ups and downs and perhaps how music has nourished their souls along the way.

Roy Arbuckle spoke to the ‘Journal’ about the healing power of song and sharing. “Obviously this event is inspired by the highly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We found at last year’s event that people freely talked about what sustains them and helps them get through life, and this year will also focus on song too.”

The songs were all written by Roy. “I had a whole bunch of songs that weren’t suitable for my band [Different Drums] as they had a more spiritual dimension, so we decided to work on them with a view to recording them and calling the album ‘Chicken Soup and Songs for the Soul’,” he reveals. “We just hope that these songs help create an atmosphere and that people will respond in whatever way they feel is appropriate, by sharing, becoming involved and talking about their own experiences.”

“It’s very much a shared experience as we are trying to break down the separation between stage and audience. For me, it’s a journey of creativity and following our intuition to see where it leads.”

Roy is particularly looking forward to working with Anne Tracey. “Anne is such a beautiful singer and I’m delighted she’s singing in public again. Neither of us have never done this in front of people before, especially Anne, and so we’re going to have a little house-party this weekend where we can perform for our own friends and family first.”

Organisers are grateful to Reverend Pat Storey and Hazel Philson of St Augustine’s Church, and to Derry City Council for their support. ‘Chicken Soup and Songs for the Soul’ takes place from 12.30pm until 2pm next Friday, May 18, at St Augustine’s Hall on Palace Street.

All are warmly welcome and admission is free.