“Newsmaker: Songs for Healing,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 56
Deanna Edwards, a member of the Pleasant View Eighth Ward, Provo Utah Sharon East Stake, was the subject of a national television special in South Africa in the spring of 1992. As a compassionate troubadour, she visits the sick, aging, lonely, and downhearted. With guitar in hand, she began her volunteer work in 1978 at a hospital in Bloomington, Illinois. She has a way of being especially open regarding death and dying, and she frequently presents seminars designed to help others cope with the grieving process. She sings in sixteen different languages and has visited the dying in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Israel, and Britain, as well as South Africa.
Once, a man lay in a long-term care unit with cancer. Nurses called him uncooperative and hostile. Deanna took on the challenge to reach him.
Cautiously, she entered his darkened room and asked if she might share a song with him. He responded brusquely, “I don’t want a song. Get out and leave me alone.”
Deanna felt prompted to look beyond the tough exterior to the isolated, vulnerable man within. “It’ll be a short one,” she assured.
He waited in sullen silence, and she said a silent prayer, then sang “You Are My Sunshine.” As she finished, his eyes met hers for the first time. “Can you play ‘Home on the Range?’”
Their visit ended in friendship. Deanna’s frequent visits during his last few weeks of mortal life seemed to help calm his fears.
“Music has the beauty and power to heal and comfort,” says Deanna, a wife and mother of four. “Christ wants us to learn how to love. My way of spreading that love is singing a song to those who need comfort.”
Deanna has written songs of comfort that celebrate life and its challenges. They are a calming influence in a hectic and confused world, a world in which a soothing song is good therapy with power to heal the heart.—Pam Taylor, Salt Lake City, Utah