Review of Healing Hands by Kathy Parsons
2019 / Sierra Keys Music
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.
Review of "Healing Hands" by Pam Asberry
Composed and performed by Cathy Oakes
Orchestrated by Doug Hammer
Release date: October 15, 2019
Cathy Oakes’ latest release, “Healing Hands,” is dedicated to the team of medical professionals who cared for her during her journey through breast cancer. Arguably her most intimate and personal collection to date, Cathy created this music to minister to other women who will follow her down this difficult path. Wonderfully melodic, rich with expression, and masterfully performed and orchestrated, the tracks on this album tell a powerful story and succeed in portraying the myriad emotions that accompanied her cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The album opens with “The Threshold,” written the morning Cathy went in for surgery. There are elements of disbelief and sorrow as well as an acceptance of whatever the outcome might be. “Healing Hands” is dedicated to Dr. John Brown and Jennifer Konke of Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee. Its sweet, simple melody expresses an almost childlike innocence and trust in the work of these two medical professionals. “Letting Go” was written in the wee hours of the morning when Cathy was forced to acknowledge how little control she had over the situation she found herself in. It is a somber yet hopeful meditation. Cathy’s “Blanket of Solitude” throughout her journey was God, her Bible and the hymns of her childhood; the music is rich and warm and conveys a powerful sense of peace and well-being, like being wrapped in a soft quilt with a cup of hot tea, alone yet not lonely. With melodic ideas rapidly rising and falling, “Wings of Change,” vacillates between melancholy and euphoria, illustrating that although change is an inevitable part of life we get to choose whether we will resist them and struggle or embrace them and soar. “The Darkest Hour” put me in mind of a Chopin nocturne and is probably my favorite track on the album (although it is almost impossible to choose!)
“A Silent Prayer” asks the age old question “Why me?” and is answered by “Grateful,” a simple expression of gratitude to everyone who supported Cathy through her darkest days. “A Fragile Grasp” is questioning and tenuous and ends on a somber note, but positivity returns with “Anchor of Hope” and “Thankfulness” – a positively soaring expression of gratefulness accompanied by what might be an angel choir! The final track on the album, “Blessed Journey,” brings the album to an uplifting conclusion, reflecting on a situation that has been one of life’s ultimate challenging yet acknowledging the strength and wisdom that have resulted from facing it head-on.
Congratulations to Cathy Oakes on another magnificent release! Very highly recommended!
Healing Hands released October 15
The newest release from Cathy Oakes "Healing Hands" will officially be released on October 15th. It is currently streaming at all streaming services.
The CD is dedicated to the team of wonderful medical professionals who guided me through my journey of breast cancer, especially Dr. John Brown and Jennifer Konke, MA, who were there for me every step of the way. Dr. Brown and Jennifer talked me through the hardest of times, rejoiced with me in the best of times and showed me love and compassion at all times. I will never be able to thank them enough for their friendship, kindness and excellent care!
A special thank you to my husband, Buddy Oakes, my children and grandchildren, my Aunt Carol and the many friends and family members who were always there and held me so lovingly in their hearts and in their prayers during this season of my life and to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Great Healer.
Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Cancer Center and Women’s Center of Maury Regional Medical Center. Your excellent, loving care, encouraging words, smiling faces and warm hugs meant more than I can say.
Thank you to my friends and colleagues who have been so supportive and helpful, especially Philip Wesley, Donovan Johnson, Joseph Akins, Pam Asberry and Marlowe Carruth. Your friendship, love and support are precious to me.
This album is designed to minister to all of the brave women who will walk this road behind me. May peace and comfort surround you as you walk this journey. May complete healing take place in your body, your heart, your mind and your spirit.
I pray that I have been faithful to express the joys and the struggles of this “Blessed Journey.”
The story behind the story of "A Heritage of Faith"
Funny thing about this CD, "A Heritage of Faith.". It was NEVER meant to be released!!!!! They had never been mastered or anything else!!!!! About 4 years ago, I went to my friend, Greg Bostock's studio in Shreveport, LA to record some hymns for use as background music in his videos.
Greg was a videographer for a major network for several years. He and I worked together at a church in Ft. Worth, TX in music ministry. He now has a music ministry that goes ALL over the world, He and his sweet wife, Glenda are flying home from Vietnam this weekend after a 2-month missions trip.
Anyway, I went into his studio with a Methodist hymnal. I had NO plan and NO idea what I would be recording. He and I just flipped through the hymnal between songs and he said, "Hey - do you know this one?" And off we went!!!!! EVERYTHING was done in ONE take and the arrangements were whatever happened "in the moment." NOTHING is written down! I left the tracks with him to be used for background and came home.
Fast-forward 4 years. I went back to Greg to record 115 hymns to be used as accompaniment for churches. I went in and played all 115 hymns as though I was playing in front of a congregation for them to sing the hymns. When I posted something on FB about recording hymns, about 40 people responded saying, "Oh, thank God! We've been waiting for years for you to do a hymns CD." My first response was, "Uh, OH!!!!!!!!! I don't have a hymns CD!!!!"
So, I called Greg and asked if he still had the tracks from 4 years ago. He did. He sent them to me and I sent them to Doug Hammer, who engineered and orchestrated my last CD, "On the Other Side," and said, "Hey - can you do anything with these?" They were recorded on a digital piano. But, being the GENIUS that he is, Doug worked with ONE track to see if he could make it work. And OMGOSH!!! Did he ever make it work!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The entire CD is what I recorded "in the moment" 4 years ago and what Doug did with it!!!!!!!! That man is a genius! It's like he takes a little trip through my mind and my heart and inherently KNOWS what I'm trying to say!!! This entire CD is a work of God!!! NOTHING has ever been written down!!!!! I have churches calling me to come and play this stuff. And I can't!!!! I have NO idea what I played!!!! It is just what happened "in the moment!!!" I'm going to have to have Donovan Johnson transcribe it to even have ANY idea what I played!!!!!! How do I even get myself into these situations?!?!?!?!?!?!
Kathy Parson's Review of "A Heritage of Faith"
Cathy Oakes Releases "A Heritage of Faith"
Cathy Oakes released her fifth Album " A Heritage of Faith" April 4, 2019. The Album includes 15 original arrangements of traditional hymns and an original improvisation that blends well into the mix.
The album is dedicated to the memory of Cathy's grandmother Lucy Shingleton Connor. As a child Cathy would be comforted by Connor holding her and rocking her while singing hymns of the church. Cathy has always loved hymns and remain a source of comfort and strength. Thus the album is dedicated to her Grandmother.
The CD was recorded by Greg Bostock of Blastoff Music Ministries in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was orchestrated and mastered by Doug Hammer of Dreamwork Studios in Lynn, Massachusetts. The artwork for the CD was designed by Matt Streiby of Newleaf Design.
Pam Asberry's Review of "On the Other Side"
On The Other Side
Reviewed By Pam Asberry
“On the Other Side” is composer and solo pianist Cathy Oakes’ fourth release and her first venture into the world of orchestration. Five years in the making, it is imbued with all the emotion, passion and reverence born of the myriad of life experiences that took place over the course of that time. It is, in a word, spectacular.
The album opens with the majestic and flowing “Hymn for Peace,” a prayer for the United States. “From This Day” was composed for Oakes’ oldest son Michael and his wife Kristin to celebrate their marriage. With its lyrical melody and dramatic key change altering the color and tone of the piece, this one perfectly captures both the joy and solemnity of a wedding day. “Echoes of Time” is a musical portrayal of the most precious and memorable moments of a lifetime, both happy and sad, with rapid shifts between major and minor keys, low notes and high, flitting about as thoughts so often do. “Home with Annie” was written in memory of Oakes’ cousin Bob Shingleton and his wife Annie, its poignant piano melody conversing with the oboe in a song of love.
The merry “Kessia’s Waltz” was composed for Oakes’ granddaughter Kessia and put me in mind of a carousel ride. “Puddle Dance” was inspired by Oakes’ experience watching a friend teach his toddler granddaughter how to jump in puddles. This one is a favorite and sounds like so much fun to play! It perfectly captures the innocence and delight of one of the simple pleasures of childhood and made me want to get outside and stomp in a few puddles myself! The epic and cinematic “Flight of a Princess “ was written for Oakes’ youngest child pursuing her dreams as a real-life princess at a theme park in Florida and is another favorite. “Lullaby from Afar” is dedicated to the women who never have the opportunity to hold their babies. Its pure melody sings like a mother’s voice over a gently rocking left hand accompaniment and brought tears to my eyes.
“Just Us” is an improvisation written for Oakes’ husband, Buddy, as a valentine gift and musically summarizes ups and downs of a love affair that has survived life’s challenges with triumph. The beautiful “Midnight Tide” ebbs and flows like the memories and regrets during the wee hours of the morning. The theme for “Sienna’s Dream” was composed by Oakes’ then nine-year old granddaughter Sienna during a holiday visit and skillfully developed into a memorable composition. I look forward to future collaborations between these two generations! The tender “Ripples on the Water” reminded me of the way “everything affects everything” and the impossibility of measuring how much impact our behavior has on the lives of others.
“Remnant Tears” refers to the tears of joy and sorrow that catch us unawares long after initial stages of grief have passed; the music reflects both sorrow and acceptance. “Heal Me” was composed as Oakes recovered from a serious illness and expresses both questioning and yearning. “Beloved Promise” is dedicated to Oakes’ son David. Graceful and affectionate, it is an expression of his steadfast nature. “Be Still My Soul” reflects Oakes’ delightful personality as an artist while remaining absolutely faithful to the original hymn. The title track, “On the Other Side,” written as Oakes processed her grief over her mother’s death, conveys both sorrow and hope; it is both virtuosic and profoundly moving.
“On the Other Side” is an amazing musical journey. Arguably Cathy Oakes’ finest album to date, I give it my highest recommendation!
Thanks to Pam for a great review!
Kathy Parson's Review of On the Other Side
On the Other Side
2018 / Sierra Keys Music
On the Other Side is the fourth album from pianist/composer Cathy Oakes and her first release in five years. The album is dedicated to Cathy’s late mother, Trellis McIntyre, and was released on her birthday. In the liner notes, Cathy writes: “Thank you, Mama. I love you and I’ll see you On the Other Side,” which obviously explains the title. The album was recorded at Dreamworld Productions and was produced, engineered, mastered and orchestrated by Doug Hammer. The orchestrations themselves are light and add depth and tonal color to the Cathy’s expressive piano. The seventeen tracks include pieces written for friends and family, as well as events in everyday life. All are original compositions except for an original arrangement that is a medley of two favorite hymns. It’s a very engaging collection sure to warm the heart and brighten the day!
On the Other Side begins with “Hymn For Peace,” a prayer for our nation. The melody is uncomplicated but deeply heartfelt, with a cello enhancing the poignance of the piano. “From This Day” was composed for Cathy’s oldest son and “daughter-in-love” (I love that!!!) to celebrate their wedding. The sweet melody and graceful flow of the piece express an abundance of love and tenderness - a favorite! “Home With Annie” is dedicated to the memory of Cathy’s cousin’s and his wife who are now reunited “on the other side.” A lovely oboe and cello accompaniment runs throughout the piece and is the perfect complement to the piano. “Puddle Dance” was inspired by watching the innocent joy of a friend and his granddaughter jumping in puddles after a rainstorm. Playful and carefree, I defy anyone to listen to this piece without smiling at least once! “Flight of a Princess” reflects the magic and wonder of a special place and a beloved daughter chasing her dreams. “Just Us” is a deeply emotional love song improvised as a Valentine gift for Cathy’s husband. Embellished with gentle string washes, it’s another favorite. “Midnight Tide” reflects on the way the joys and sorrows of life tend to ebb and flow as late-night thoughts when sleep won’t come. Cello again plays a lovely and emotive counterpoint to the piano. “Heal Me” was written as a prayer for healing and has the open-hearted sincerity of someone truly in need of comfort and support - another very beautiful piece! The hymn medley of “Be Still My Soul” and “It Is Well With My Soul” combines two favorite hymns of Cathy’s mother, her close friend, and her own - a stirring combination! The title track is the piece Cathy wrote as she processed her grief at her mother’s passing. Although the piece is sad, it expresses profound hope as well as a sense of loss - one of Cathy Oakes’ best and most moving pieces to date!
I hope it won’t be another five years between albums, but On the Other Side was certainly worth the wait! It is available from www.CathyOakes.com, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.
Thanks to Kathy for a wonderful review!
On the Other Side Released
I am proud to present to you my newest CD, “On the Other Side.” This is a project that has been five years in the making. The songs were born of the many experiences over the past five years of my life - the marriage of children, children moving away from home, my mother and other loved ones passing and the joy of sitting at the piano with my granddaughter as she wrote the theme for Sienna’s Dream. It is my first venture into the world of orchestration. This music was recorded, orchestrated and engineered with the amazing Doug Hammer of Dreamworld Productions. It has been a journey of joy, sorrow and reflection and the experience of a lifetime. I invite you to share the journey with me.
You may hear sample tracks by clicking on the “Song Clips” tab and choosing “On the Other Side” at the top of my page or you may hear them in my store. You may order your CDs through my store or through CDBaby, where digital downloads are also available by using the CDBaby tab on the right of this page. It will also soon be available through popular audio streaming sites such as iTunes and others.
Thank you for listening and for sharing my journey.
On the Other Side CD Presale
My new CD, "On the Other Side." is not up on my website yet. But if you want to pre-order a copy, just Paypal $15 (shipping included) to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll get a copy in the mail to you immediately!!! This one is TOTALLY different! It is orchestrated by the AMAZING Doug Hammer!!!
Cathy Oakes "On the Other Side" releases September 27
OK, folks - it's a WRAP! This CD is as perfect as the AMAZING Doug Hammer and I can make it! I'm working with the AWESOME Matt Streiby to get the cover done and then, it's off to post production. If everything goes perfectly, I'll have it in my hands by my mom's birthday, Sept 27. It would be very fitting since the album is in her memory. I can't wait to share it with you!!!!!!
Miller Piano, Franklin, TN
Cathy will perform and be interviewed on The River of Calm radio show hosted by Ed Bazel and shown worldwide at https://theriverofcalm.com/ . They have listeners in 155 countries and is available on Alexa, Android and Apple devices.
Rose Garden Concert Venue, 1212 Rolling Fields Drive, Columbia, Tennessee
Come listen to Cathy and Pam play Christmas music and other favorites from their catalogue.
Mike Barnhouse House concert, Teas Valley, WV