When Nancy Carlson’s now-adult son was in middle school, he was given the assignment so many school-age youth have had to complete through the years: Interview a senior citizen to learn more about that man or woman’s life.
Her son sat down with a neighbor and a cassette recorder. Years later, Carlson was going through some things and came across the tape. The elderly man her son had spoken to had since passed away, so Carlson reached out to his family to see if they were interested in having the cassette.
“They were thrilled to have that recording of him talking about his life,” Carlson said.
Carlson, who lives in Eckert, saw the power that simply hearing the voice of a deceased loved one could have on a family. She told the story about the recording and its meaning after traveling to Beth Williams’ intimate Hill Country Recording studio near Cedaredge in late November to record the single, “Stormy Weather.”
The single was actually a follow-up to a full-length album Carlson had recorded, having first visited Williams’ studio months earlier to make a CD because “my children had never heard me sing,” Carlson said.
Carlson wanted to leave her children a recording of her music, so that when she is gone her music—and her voice—won’t be.
A lasting legacy
She recorded the music through Williams’ Lasting Legacy program, a special program designed to give seniors a chance to record music, poetry and stories. in a small studio with high-quality equipment and Williams’ years of production experience.
Williams, a professional musician herself, works with people of all ages, but her Lasting Legacy service specifically gives seniors the opportunity to record such things as stories, poetry or personal history on CD. She even helps put cover art on the albums.
A relative newcomer to Cedaredge, Williams moved to the area from Texas four years ago. She said the reason for starting Lasting Legacy was a simple one.
“My father used to sing to me when I was a little girl,” she said. “I wished I could hear my father’s voice again.”
Visits to nursing homes to perform through the years have only reinforced Williams’ realization that “so many people die and they are gone and leave nothing. I think it’s hugely important [to leave an audio legacy].”
Bob Doolittle, from Loveland, sought out Williams to record his music in May 2015, spending four days in Cedaredge at a small bed and breakfast, soaking in the scenery.
While there, Doolittle learned more about Lasting Legacy and took the opportunity to record a song, “Bare Branches,” with his sons in mind. He wrote the song for his boys, reflecting back on all the time he missed with his children while he was working in the corporate world. He was walking around his property one day and saw a tree house that his boys had built without him.
Williams told Doolittle “not to take those songs to the grave,” he said, remembering the conversation.
Doolittle gifted his children a recording of that song for Father’s Day in 2015. He’s thinking of coming back to record more with Williams in the future.
“It was like I was at home,” Doolittle said. “I’ve got so many songs, and she said I’ve got to get them out of my head.”
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Like Doolittle, Glade Park’s Don White also went to Williams’ studio to record music for personal reasons, but once there he learned more about Lasting Legacy. He immediately had thoughts of his 81-year-old mother.
“It’d be a great opportunity to get some stuff saved for grandkids and great-grandkids,” White said.
He hasn’t scheduled anything and hasn’t had a chance to talk about it with his family. Williams knows plenty of people in the same boat, and urges seniors not to wait months or years for a chance to leave a legacy.
Singers can lose their voices at any time. Illness can surprise the healthiest person. Dementia can forever steal a candid spirit, Williams said.
Carlson has thought of it like a family necklace or other heirloom we leave behind. Are those as important as ensuring your children, grandchildren or other family and friends could hear your voice again?
Friends and family will find great comfort in future years, as they listen to the messages you leave them or watch a video you recorded.
Learn more about Lasting Legacy, offered through Hill Country Recording Studio, at www.beth
williamsmusic.com/lasting-legacy or by contacting Williams or 856-4496. She will provide more information on pricing, session availability and specific services.