2019 / Sierra Keys Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Healing Hands is a very special album by pianist/composer Cathy Oakes and chronicles her recent journey through breast cancer. I shared with Cathy that this year marks the tenth anniversary of my own cancer journey, an experience that changes you in ways you never expect - but that’s a discussion for another time! All twelve pieces on the album are originals and Cathy explains in the liner notes what inspired each piece, whether it was the emotional roller coaster ride, the medical team that accompanied Cathy through the process with kindness and love, simple gestures of caring and kindness, and Cathy’s own deep religious faith. The music was orchestrated, mixed and mastered by Doug Hammer at his Dreamworld Productions, but it is always the piano that is front and center (Doug is an incredibly gifted pianist/composer himself!).
Healing Hands is the sixth album from Cathy Oakes since her 2012 debut, Like a Song. I have enjoyed each of her albums, but the intimacy and honesty in the music of Healing Hands makes it a treasure as well as a very personal musical expression. All of the music on the album is quiet and peaceful despite the turbulence of the emotions expressed, and is far from depressing or painful to listen to - quite the opposite. This album offers messages of hope and comfort that will gently uplift the listener.
The album begins with “The Threshold,” a piece composed the morning of Cathy’s surgery. “I felt as if I was standing at a threshold about to walk down a long hallway. And I had no idea where that hallway would take me.” Delicate and prayerful in many ways, there is a questioning quality that is deeply emotional and completely honest. The title tune was written for Dr. John Brown and his assistant, Jennifer Konke, “who will always be my heroes.” Love and gratitude flow from every note. “Letting Go” was written late at night when the realization came that Cathy had no control over what was happening inside her body and needed to let go and “let God.” Deeply personal and expressive, the piece brings you right into the emotional conflicts of that time. “Blanket of Solitude” refers to times when doubts and fears became overwhelming and Cathy would wrap herself in a “blanket of solitude” - “just God, my Bible and me.” Warmth and comfort flow throughout this beautiful piece. “The Darkest Hour” is an emotional powerhouse, although it is never turbulent or despairing. It is a turn to faith and the peace it brings at difficult times. “Anchor of Hope” refers to a passage in the book of Hebrews that tells that Jesus is the “…anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…” Gorgeous and very soothing! “Thankfulness” is an expression of gratitude to all who helped Cathy through the cancer experience - either professionally or the friends and family who helped out in any way they could - very poignant and loving! The album ends with “Blessed Journey,” an improvisation that “expresses my gratitude for each day that God gives me in which to live to laugh and to love” - a very positive and upbeat close to an excellent album.
Healing Hands is healing music and is available from CathyOakes.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby as well as many streaming sites.
December 6, 2019