I was saddened to wake up to the news of another great singer’s death. This time, Whitney Houston was found dead in her bath at 48.
On the back of the untimely death of our great UK singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse and any number of stories circulating in the press about women singers struggling to deal with their drug, weight or alcohol addiction, it seems the pressure of fame causes these vibrant lives to end before their time.
It was ever thus. For those of us who like the jazz and blues, Piaf, Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith set the trend.
Why do these beautiful, talented women turn to fast cars, drugs, alcohol and binge diets in the first place?
I believe that often, fame comes fast and they are unprepared for it mentally and emotionally. Very quickly, like moths to a flame, they get surrounded by hangers on and people who tell them the things they want and need to hear, and over time, they lose touch with reality. For those that have strong families and friends, this too can prove to be difficult as these people are no more prepared for the change in their loved one’s lives and their advice and support can be meaningless in the context of the adoration of strangers and constant media attention.
Another worrying factor is that many of these wonderful women get into relationships with unsavoury men who introduce them to the very addictions they die from.
If only they could have sought an independent view, to gain some all-round perspective on life. In my 360 WISDOM model, these women would be clear CREATives. When in their healthy CREATE state, they are the most fun, inspirational people to be around. But as they spend more time doing CREATE, without the balance of THINK, FEEL and BELIEVE the CREATE becomes unhealthy. Unhealthy CREATIVES believe in their own myth, feel an emptiness in their purpose and their relationships and spend little time focussing on their inner-development. To fill the deficit, it’s a classic to turn to artificial substances to gain a momentary balance.
If you want to explore the diva in you without the dying and learn how my WISDOM circle can help you live a full, joyful life, come along to my 360 WISDOM Empowering Women Workshop at the Barbican 25th Feb, the Royal Pavilion Brighton, 4th March, the MAC Birmingham 10th March or the Arnolfini Bristol 25th March from 10-4pm
Tickets £50/£40 from www.tiny.cc/360wisdom Information www.360wisdom.co.uk
“To be shelterless and alone in the open country, hearing the wind moan and watching for day through the whole long weary night; to listen to the falling rain, and crouch for warmth beneath the lee of some old barn or rick, or in the hollow of a tree; are dismal things -- but not so dismal as the wandering up and down where shelter is, and beds and sleepers are by thousands; a houseless rejected creature.”
Charles Dickens - Poverty and the Poor.
Another anniversary! This time, we celebrate the bi-centenary of the great author and social commentator Charles Dickens, whose life was recently celebrated in a service at Westminster Abbey.
Dickens wrote novels that most of us at school studied as set texts. Many of them were bleak and were a social commentary on Victorian England, with its grinding poverty, poor houses, open sewers and sickness. In dark, pea-souper alleys, people lay sodden drunk from gin or spaced out in opium dens. There were regular runs on banks that ruined many. Small children climbed and cleaned out chimneys and sold matches. Stealing meant transportation for the smallest of misdemeanours.
As a result of his writings and the contribution of many other creative people, some of the most significant infra-structure projects our country has ever seen were delivered.
Whilst Victorian England has passed from living memory and remains something we read about in history books, most of us wander through towns and cities that contain solid-built Victorian buildings. My first flat was in a Victorian building, constructed by craftsmen who were proud of what they built, full of swirling plaster mouldings, patterned architraves and tiles hand laid with care and attention.
In London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol and most of our fine cities, we walk on the bones of these ancestors who generated wealth for us from the industrial revolution.
Whatever the moral rights and wrongs are from this wealth creation, as we move into a period in the present where we will be celebrating the life of a great artist, I ask you to consider whether much has really changed?
Of course we've benefited from technological advancement, but has this been shared with all the people?
Isn’t our drug and alcohol dependency still as high as it ever was?
Do our children and young people aspire to better their lives through good jobs and a decent education?
Do people live in decent, affordable homes?
Do some suffer from food impoverishment?
Whilst some of the terrible diseases people suffered and died from 200 years ago have been eradicated (cholera, typhus, TB, smallpox), the startling fact for me is that when you pick at the surface, much remains the same, because human nature doesn’t really change all that much. It’s just that our ‘toys’ and methods of communication become more sophisticated.
Where are the great social reformers for the 21st Century? Who are the creative people waiting to take on the mantle of the great Dickens? Where are the leaders who will take a risk and work from conviction rather than personal interest?
WHAT THE DICKENS IS GOING ON?