Comfort through the universal language of music
29 August 2021 | Art and Entertainment
Two Netherlands based musicians, far from their homes in Namibia and Italy respectively, have used the universal language of song to bring comfort and solace to their families and friends back home.
This week, Namibian Danella Smith and her neighbour in The Hague, Italian Vito Fiume – both music teachers and musicians – reached for the universal power of music to help their friends and families in Italy, South Africa and Namibia enduring devastating Covid-19 waves.
The duo spontaneously recorded the spiritual cover song All my tears (Be Washed Away), originally written and recorded in the eighties by Julie Miller, on Monday while at home to overcome their own emotional pain of not being able to be with their families during a difficult time.
“We (Smith’s family in Namibia and South Africa) lost our granny who lived in South Africa in June. Everyone, my family and friends, in South Africa, are going through a tough time, some are sick and we are all grieving. Everyone has lost someone,” Smith said.
The impetus of the song was for two reasons: to console themselves through music, and to comfort loved ones far away.
“We were both emotional on Monday. It’s difficult being so far away, you feel completely helpless and powerless. I can’t be there to give a hug. I couldn’t say goodbye to my grandmother. We can’t grieve together. So we decided to record the song.”
Fiume adds that the song was a culmination of a number of difficult weeks, where he had felt helpless in the face of struggles faced by family and friends in Italy. “I miss my family. We are both emotional. So we decided to record this song for our loved ones.”
He added: “It’s destroyed many families and you feel powerless. I just wish I could be there, close to my family. You feel this sense of emptiness. There is not much we can do. Just pray for our families and friends and try to do our best.”
Both agree that the song gave them an opportunity to work through their own feelings and helped them feel they are doing something small to uplift others.
The lyrics focus on the perspective of a loved one who has died, comforting those left behind.
“When I go don't cry for me
In my fathers arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole,” the song starts.
Its refrain, particularly, struck a chord with the musicians.
“It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter anywhere I lay
All my tears be washed away.”
Smith discovered the song through a student earlier this year, who had asked that she teach him how to play the song on guitar.
She says the lyrics and melody are “soothing, especially if you have lost someone. We have all lost someone, and the words ring so true in this terrible time.”
She hoped that it would bring equal comfort to others. “This song is a way I can help. We wanted to help in some way, and this is one of the ways we thought we could help.”
The duo are far from their loved ones, families currently living amidst devastating Covid-19 outbreaks.
Fiume said the area where he originates from in Italy has been hit hard by a new outbreak.
He says the feedback from Smith’s family and circle of friends over the past days, that the song had indeed brought temporary escape from the pain and fear surrounding them, was welcome news.
“I am really happy that somehow, with the tools we have, we can make someone feel a little bit better. That is the power of music. We are happy that with something like a song, we can change someone’s mood for a little while.”
The duo began playing together in December, during a strict lockdown period. They focus on a repertoire of cover songs, which they plan to play at weddings and other events once life returns back to normal.
Their sound is focused on classical and acoustic guitar pieces alongside joyous and soothing cover songs.
Follow Smith and Fiume on Instagram and Facebook, under the band name Vito and Danella.