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After 4 weeks off stage, I found myself back in my favourite place again this week. On a stage, behind a piano, doing what I do that makes me me. I’ve missed it. In the grand scheme of things, four weeks is not a long time but it was necessary for me to mentally disconnect from performing for a few weeks. I only realised how necessary when I got back on that stage.

I’ve spent the last few weeks writing, doing studio sessions, planning my touring schedule for the year… so yeah, basically working… although I did manage to take a week break in Cape Town. I did some living, fell in love with new music and beautiful spaces, debated the meaning of life, challenged myself to dream bigger and believe more, and breathed in the epic novel that is my life. And then I closed a chapter of my life that I didn’t realise was still ever so slightly ajar – the chapter of my life that wrote my first album.

I process my life through my music and after two years of living that album and everything it represented, two years of promoting the open-heart surgery that made me a complete person again, I didn’t realise that there was one final step to really moving on from that part of my life: realising that I’ve become indifferent. Not to the moments, or the life that I lived, or the love that I lost – I can’t deny the value of those things, because in denying them, I would deny a part of myself and who I’ve become. But I’m finally indifferent to the players in that story, myself included, or at least who I was back then. I’m not a big fan of indifference. I’m big on passion and feeling completely with your entire being, so when I was confronted by indifference, it surprised me, to say the least. But in this case it’s necessary for closure, and for once in my life, to just feel nothing after feeling far too much.

So I found myself back on stage with this story that I wrote a lifetime ago and I realised that I’m so often disconnected from myself as a songwriter, in that I only fully understand what I’m on about when the smoke has cleared much later on. Every Heart has always been one of my favourite songs from my first album. It’s a song about hope and shared experience, about the idea that everyone suffers heartache but every heart heals eventually. I’ve always understood that the idea of shared experience is supposed to help, but in that moment, you believe with all your heart that no one else understands what you’re going through. Heartache is a universal affliction. The intensity and circumstances vary, but it is essentially the same for everyone and people have survived it since the beginning of time (well, most have). And you can’t deny that it’s comforting to know that you don’t suffer it alone. I honestly didn’t believe that I would ever get over the heartache that I felt so intensely, and then I wrote a song about every heart finding its way, almost like I was writing a song to myself, hoping that it might be true. And it is. It always is. It’s funny what we believe about ourselves in those moments when we think there is no hope. It took me years to really hear that song, and it’s never rung so true to my heart before.

As I sat on that stage, back in my authentic space, I realised how much I’ve grown as a performer in the last four weeks by being off the stage. I have never played so passionately, believed so much, or been so thankful for who I’ve become.
“It’s true what they say. Everyone has a broken heart and every heart has broken a little before, but I believe that a broken heart will always find its way.”

– Lyrics from “Every Heart” by Shannon Hope.

South African. Kawai Pianist. Vocal Artist. TEDx Speaker. Copywriter. Gamer. LEGO nut. Organised chaos controller. WordPress designer. Pro scuba diver and occasional mermaid.

Currently on a break from fulltime touring, Shannon Hope is utilising her other talents in digital creative spaces… but there will be another studio album, and some exclusive performances every now and then. It’s not over. It’s just different.
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