From the rolling hills of Kentucky to the high mountains of Montana, Jamie Wyman’s personal experiences led her to create the great blue song project. This project seeks to create music for healing, allowing people to find an expression that words alone can’t convey. The music helps transform pain into peace through the songwriting process. Jamie reaches out to people suffering from terminal illnesses, or anyone who’s healing from a transformative experience questioning one’s mortality.
Music For Healing And Life Transitions
Everdays: How did this project and your musical journey begin?
Jamie: As a child protective services worker, I responded to a call to check on a couple of kids. We rescued two children. A baby would have died, if we hadn’t gone. 3 or 4 days. It’s one of the few calls I responded to when I knew I had made the right decision. I was emotionally exhausted when I got home. Instead of breaking down and crying, I wrote a song. I was emotionally exhausted when I reached home. Instead of breaking down and crying, I wrote a song.
It was one of my first songs. When I perform it even now, it touches many people. At that time, it helped me process my emotions, and it still has an impact on others.
Everdays: Why did you choose songwriting as a medium to express your emotions?
Jamie: Words can sometimes not express our feelings fully. Singing is a good way to release emotions in a physical sense. Everyone needs to find a way to talk about the stuff they are going through.
I began as an advocate and in my early career, I spent time in emergency rooms. I went to law school to gain more power to help through hospital administration. But I realized, I would be miserable, if I did that my whole life. Kentucky was not my place. Montana was my home and I decided to come back to start over. I decided to join a band, for fun, for singing. Writing my own songs and relearning how to play the piano. The band got me through child protective services, and helped me process my own stress.
After a year, I realized music is going to be more important.
Everdays: It feels like you organically stumbled upon musical healing then. How did you approach music differently, given your experience with social services?
Jamie: Music developed slowly in my life and I didn’t let it add more stress. I have approached music differently compared to other things in life. I do have a tendency to get very cerebral but I decided to lead with the heart. However, I took a few lessons to improve my skills. But I didn’t go to school for music. I didn’t put much pressure on myself. I had been burned out in the child protection job, so I needed to have a job that balanced my emotional and creative energy. I got a mundane office job so I could put more energy into music.
Everdays: Do you feel in some way your career experiences have become additive?
Jamie: Yes, absolutely. It felt like a different direction but it’s all coming back together now. I am using my skills as a musician and my experience as a social worker. I guess all of it happens for a reason.
Everdays: The great blue song project is very interesting in that you work with people who may be facing their mortality or a terminal illness. How do you help others process their emotions in such situations?
Jamie: I worked with a woman battling breast cancer. She was in the middle of her treatment. I began with a series of questions. Some were very serious, like: ‘What are you going through?, What are you most afraid of in this illness?, ‘What’s your purpose in life?,’ while some were silly, fun questions. The purpose of the whole exercise really was to allow her to talk about things that she would be afraid to share otherwise.
People going through illnesses and such serious experiences have a lot of stuff on their mind. This particular lady eventually said, she found it easier to die than to manage the emotions of friends and family around her. That’s not easy to say out loud. I am an outsider, and do not have the same attachment to their answers that family members might. My questions are for the purpose of writing a song.
So it’s similar to writing your life story, but it’s boiled down into a song. It’s not therapy. I am not trying to fix them but I am listening. There’s no need to find what’s wrong with them. Everyone is free to express themselves. I ask questions and give them the opportunity to be themselves.
Everdays: Why does music help in these transformative situations?
Jamie: Words alone can’t get to emotions. I interpret their emotions as a songwriter. I give a voice to their journey, even if they do not write their own songs. Music helps focus on the fun part of people’s journeys. It helps bring out the spark of the person. Why are you alive? What’s the purpose of your life? Can a song describe your journey?
It’s quite different from what we’re culturally attuned to. As a culture, we need to ask ourselves, how can we be immortal in our daily lives and how can we talk about tougher topics, like death. How can we honor this process and how can we shape our lives in a positive way. We’re all mortal beings, and it’s important to live with that awareness and not make conversation around it taboo.
Thank you for all these beautiful thoughts, and your music Jamie. You’re a powerful force, and we hope you keep healing through your songs.
Suggested Read: Music Can Help Us Heal
Jamie Wyman, MA, JD
Jamie Wyman, MA, JD is the founder of the great blue song project. She started her path as a helping professional in 2002 when she began volunteering as an advocate for sexual assault survivors.
In 2003 she graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University with a B.A. in Psychology and French. She then continued both her volunteering and education in Tucson, AZ where she earned a law degree and an M.A. in Women’s Studies in 2008 from the University of Arizona.
Jamie went on to pass the Kentucky Bar and serve as the Supervisor of the Legal Justice Team at the Center for Women and Families in Louisville, KY, where she led a team of anti-violence advocates in law enforcement and court settings.
In 2011, she returned to her hometown in Northwest Montana to serve as a Child Protection Specialist for the State of Montana and joined her first band. Jamie now combines her passion for helping people with her passion for music as a custom songwriter, workshop leader, and keynote speaker.