One thing the passionate music fan likes almost as much as listening to music is talking about it. The Awesome Music Project, released October 10th, gathers 111 stories and recollections by Canadians from all walks of life about the music they love and the music that touches their souls. Like the Music Collector’s Show I attended in Calgary last month, I was once again struck by the feeling of being among my people.

Through every stage of life, there is music. It provides comfort in difficult times, motivational power when we need a lift, and it helps us celebrate moments of joy. This is an impressive book and yet relatively easy to digest. Each story is only a page or two including some beautiful illustrations, as each individual ‘guest’ talks about the music that comforts, moves and lifts their spirits. The premise here is to explore the unique healing power of music through the individual stories. Rounding out the book are descriptions of the neurological research confirming that music is good for us; it improves our mental, emotional and physical health and even wards off depression. Or, put more simply, music makes us feel good.

As I read through The Awesome Music Project I was thrilled to see stories of the healing power of music that paralleled my own. Each includes a brief description of the person writing, including their profession and where they come from. You’ll recognize people like Sarah McLachlan, Rick Mercer, Chris Hadfield, and Fred Penner, but these little descriptions will help you get a handle on those you might not be familiar with.

As a lifelong music buff myself- why else would I write album reviews for 30 years and spend most of my adult life in broadcasting, a business notorious for poverty wages- I was at least touched by each story and occasionally thrilled by more than a few. “I’ve always been a musician” writes astronaut Chris Hadfield. “I think we all are, it’s just that only some of us learn to play instruments.” How often has the right music nursed you through a heartbreak? Is there a song you can count on to lift you up to stand tall and try again? There is for me- Never Say Die by Black Sabbath does it every time.

Some people don’t care that much about music, and I get that. My brother, for instance, likes music but he loves sports, so I won’t be sending him this for Christmas. The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs Of Hope & Happiness was written for people that love music, no matter what the genre, with proceeds going to music and mental health research. As Robert Carli writes in the introduction, “we hope that when you read these stories you will be reminded of the healing power of music. We hope that you see yourself in some of them. Or see someone you know. Or maybe just enjoy a good story. And discover some new music along the way.”

It makes a terrific Christmas present for the music fanatic on your list, or for you as a payday treat. Check your local book store- you’ll be glad you did.

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