This month we interviewed Amy Faith Morley, the singer songwriter who is generously gifting copies of her lockdown album, “Abide with Me”, to care homes across the country.
That’s amazing at such a young age! So where did life and music take you as you headed into adult life?
By the age of 17, a series of events and miracles led me to become a born again Christian and from that point my life changed and I found myself on a journey of faith really. I spent my late teens through to my mid twenties at a Bible College where I met Josh. We got married in 2011 and joined YWAM (that’s Youth With a Mission) which led us to various volunteer mission trips overseas, to places like Ukraine, Albania and America. In every country I found that although the cultures were diverse, beautiful and different in their own unique ways, the brokenness of humanity is pretty much the same everywhere.
As someone who went through a lot in my younger years, I know what it means to be hurt and broken. I have also discovered what it can look like to set out on a healing journey and to find ongoing freedom. It’s out of my bad and good experiences that I have wanted to serve God and help others also.
In my mid twenties after a long break from singing professionally my old music college tutor offered to produce an album for me. He helped me to develop as a songwriter and play my songs alongside a full country/rock band and record them for my debut original album 'Morning Star'. This led to me playing in churches, bars, soup kitchens, care homes and music festivals; only this time I felt I had so much more to give in terms of my story, life experience and able to relate with my audience a lot more compassionately than my younger years. I like to think the more we experience as human beings, the more compassionate we become, and especially as a Christian, the deeper my love for Jesus grows, the more I find that I have the capacity to love others better.
Tell us a bit about your album ‘Abide with Me’ - what was your inspiration behind it, and what was it like recording it at home during the start of the pandemic?
Before the pandemic I had plans to travel abroad with my husband Josh on several mission trips and teach in some youth classes. I also had gigs lined up and a new original project to record for my second album. But when the pandemic hit, like many others, I found myself stuck at home with many plans cancelled. As a Christian I love to pray and spend time meditating with my Bible and sometimes play music alongside these devotional times. I found myself picking up an old hymn book and just reading through some of the lyrics. I was touched by the comfort, peace and hope found in many of the words to the hymns. It also reminded me of when my grandparents used to play old vinyl records and on some of those records old traditional hymns are recorded in a country and western style! I love the hymn 'Abide with Me' and it seemed so fitting for the season we were all in around the world!
You're generously gifting copies of 'Abide with Me' to care homes across the UK. What inspired you to do this and how's it going?
My heart particularly went out to the elderly during the pandemic! As a younger person I at least had the luxury of an iPad and whatsapp videos with family, and Zoom for work and ministry. But my elderly grandparents struggled at times to join in and this can feel very isolating. I thought a lot about how the elderly might be getting on. They are such intimate and present people, at least I have found throughout my life. Some of the oldest have lived through World War II and are such resilient people. And yet, I often feel like as our generation moves forward with such 'speed' especially online, and in the world of technology, the elderly often get sort of left behind in the process. I felt that if I couldn't go into the care homes and sing, maybe a CD to encourage people might be supportive and fun for them. I had set aside an amount of money for the original album but, after prayer, decided this was a season to set aside my own desires, and gift hymns instead.
So I bought a batch of CDs and so far have sent them to just over 100 care homes and chaplaincy ministries around the country. Each CD comes with a wax-sealed, handwritten postcard personalised to either an individual or the name of the care home/hospice and a yellow rose postcard for people to put on their fridge or notice board. I handwrite and wax seal the postcards because, in a day and age where technology seems to be taking over most things, I still love and appreciate the feel of pen and paper, as I know many older people do as well. It gives a personal touch and says “I took the time to sit down, light a candle, think of you and write a note just for you!” I had pen pals growing up and always looked forward to their stories, questions and sometimes the little stickers we would send back and forth to encourage each other. I appreciate what we have nowadays with instant access to video calls, emails and Facebook. But sometimes it’s really nice to receive that letter, that personalised touch.
I have received messages from friends saying that the hymns really encouraged their loved ones in care homes. I also received positive feedback and an invite to sing 'Abide with Me' at a funeral. I went and sang, although it was a tough one seeing people sitting so far apart and masked, as I was the only one allowed to sing. This made me feel very sad, but at the same time I knew it was encouraging the family and friends of the person who had passed away.
Do you have any personal experience of care homes?
Yes! I have visited friends in nursing homes and had the privilege of singing in a few too! The first time I sang in a care home was in the town I was born and bred, a place called Moxley Court. My junior school friend Max and I sang some Abba songs and a few war time songs. My little sister did a dance and we put on quite the variety show for the residents, who were really overjoyed! We were only kids, so it really broke up the mundane routine and filled the place with some vibrant music and laughter too!
More recently at a nursing home in the USA I had the privilege of visiting our dear friend's late mother, a sweet lady who sadly went through Alzheimer's. I got to sing and play guitar for the residents there and we shared some sweet moments, playing games, singing along and simply sitting with people and holding their hands as they shared their own life stories.
What's your favourite song on this album and why?
Ah, that's a hard one as I like many of them for different reasons...
Amazing Grace for its beautiful words that many can relate to, and this is probably one of the most upbeat songs on the album. I had a lot of fun recording this with my singing teacher Elaine Buckland and the Counterpoint Choir on a split screen video, as we all had to record separately from home during lockdown! This song seems to cheer people up the most. I have also sung this in care homes and the country beat usually gets people toe tapping, sometimes even dancing!
I also love the story of Saint Francis of Assisi and the words to 'Make me a channel of your peace'. I think this song is especially relevant for today, with us all going through a global pandemic and now the devastation we are seeing in Ukraine. This is such a simple song, often sung in school assemblies when I was growing up, but it really is like a prayer, asking to be a vessel of God's love and peace in this world.
I think my personal favourite is 'Jesus paid it all'. When I think of my life before I came to faith, and the broken mess it was in as a teenager compared with life now, it really was and is the grace of God. When I think of Jesus and what He has done in my life, I am very humbled.
If someone would like a CD for a care home, how should they request one?
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find more details on the Embracing Age website.
And how can other people connect with you and enjoy your music?
My biography and music is all on my website, and my full catalogue of songs, vlogs and music videos are all on my youtube channel. You can also stream or download the album on Apple, ITunes, Amazon and Spotify.
It's always encouraging when people go to the website and buy the physical CDs too. I also have 'Abide' candles available through my website shop at: www.amyfaithmorley.com/store.
Anyone who wants to journey with me, can find me on Instagram and Facebook, where I share regular updates.