Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)

MUSIC

Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

Felicia Wall’s latest project at a Surrey recovery/treatment centre is music to her ears.

A music therapist, Wall has helped produce “The Phoenix Album Project: Hear Our Voices,” an album of songs performed by 14 resident musicians who live at Phoenix Society.

The project took about six months to complete, and involved a lot of hard work to perform and record the eclectic collection of music – some originals, covers, country, rap, poetry and more.

Seeds for the 15-song album were planted from Wall’s work with residents during weekly music jams, lessons and therapy sessions at the Phoenix facility, on 94A Avenue.

“I really wanted to showcase that (the residents) have amazing things to say, and amazing music to give to the world,” Wall said in a blog posted to phoenixsociety.com. “Everyone has something to say and a different way to say it. I think the experience of people going through addiction and mental health is often not told from their perspective.”

The album is posted to Spotify.com.

Phoenix resident Tim Page, 38, hadn’t touched his guitar in close to two years prior to getting involved in music therapy at Phoenix.

“Music was a pretty cathartic thing for me,” Page noted. “I guess I had a hard time expressing myself in just normal day-to-day conversation and I just felt pretty locked inside of myself but it seemed like through music I could communicate what was going on inside of me and I could express myself. I guess it’s kind of human nature. Music was the best way for me to do that.”

(Story continues below video)

The album was made possible by an increase to an annual grant from Vancouver-based Music Heals, as well as a one-time $1,500 grant from Hamber Foundation that was used to purchase equipment.

Located in the basement of Phoenix Centre, the society’s music room is filled with instruments for the musicians to play and express themselves.

The organization is now looking to expand Walls’s position to offer more music therapy to residents, as the program is in high demand there.

“The music therapy has been around for quite awhile, and it’s continued to build and evolve, but to see everyone come together and create a project like this, this album, is really exciting for everyone,” said Keir Macdonald, Phoenix Society’s CEO.

“It’s been a pretty tough year, and some of the other activities haven’t been available, but music therapy has been a real constant for the people involved, an outlet, especially during COVID. Every summer they do a guitar group and play on the top patio here, in the sun, and just to see the smiles while they’re playing, it’s pretty special.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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