Music: The soft mist that settles into crevices where nothing else can reach.
-Kimberly Jo Smith
In life we experience so many degrees of trauma it is a wonder that we can gather a fraction of coherent thought or reasoning. But I have found that Heavenly Father has equipped us all with various forms of natural anti-depressants in the form of compassionate service, fellowshipping, art, reading, writing, positive media, and then there is music. I have found whenever a dark cloud forms over me that music is a driving force which dissipates that cloud very quickly.
Someone once asked me if I hum very often, for while in her home she noticed that I hummed a lot. I responded that I hum every day without even thinking and had done so since I was little. She then went on to say that it was an inner healing mechanism which had probably saved me in many ways because the vibration of notes carried throughout my body, creating a relaxing calm. I didn’t think about it much at the time but have since looked deeper into the effect music has on us physically, mentally and spiritually. In doing so I can see why the Lord made music so much a part of our lives and how the adversary has used it as well. There is a marked difference in the attitude and personality of those who listen to fun, uplifting music and those who listen to dark, degrading music of hopelessness. One brings a happy jolly disposition as well as healing; the other a dark, reclusive, and destructive personality. So it is indeed true we must always be wary of the kind of music we listen to.
As I considered the many elements behind our interaction with music I began to reflect about my own history with it. Many individuals have written me asking where that sound comes from, the style and harmonies that my son and I employ when we are on stage, and my first response is, “From the Tennessee mountains,” because that is where I am from and what has influenced me the most. But a more accurate answer would be from within.
The scriptures tell us that we all come to this earth with specific gifts and talents (quote) and to utilize them. My first memories involve music. My father always played the guitar and he was in a Bluegrass band and when I heard them play it moved something inside of me. He taught me and my sister in one sitting how to sing lead and how to do harmony, and we picked it up like it was one of our own limbs, a natural part of who we were.
When I grew older I noticed that certain music, particularly older, southern gospel genres, would bring tears to my eyes. Something about it touched me within. That is when I decided to dig into my heritage and see just how deep the music went. On my father’s Smith side I can trace music back to the 1830’s. Each generation had musical talents with some of Joseph and Emma Smith’s children and grandchildren composing hymns that were in Restoration hymn books. From the resources I found, the majority of my ancestors on the Smith side were very adept in vocal abilities as well. On my mother’s side music was also prevalent. Her family grew up in the East Tennessee Mountains where my Mammaw and Pappaw engaged in Sacred Harp singing, a raw type of gospel that originated in the Appalachian Mountains in the late 18th to early 19th centuries. (For a brief history visit fasola.org)
After researching my musical roots I came to a better understanding of why music is so embedded within me. It brought to me a realization of just how important it is to know one’s heritage, for it is that heritage which explains who we are and why we have some of the tendencies that we do. I do not believe an ancestor’s song dies when they leave this earth, it carries on to be realized in a more magnified manner for a different time. So now, when I am composing and writing I appreciate the source from where those talents came from; generations of ancestors and above all a Heavenly Father who gifted us with those talents.
There are so many stories to tell of our past and present in music, art, dance and many other modes which can uplift and heal. It is so important to cultivate any talent we have been given and use it to bring happiness to those around us.