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Rising singer Cecil tells us about her inspirational uncle


Cecil’s music has grown in notoriety over the last year most notably being featured recently on BBC Radio 2. She has been championed regionally by BBC Introducing Berkshire and has performed live for both BBC Coventry & Warwickshire and BBC Oxfordshire respectively as well as featuring on many other radio shows in the UK.

After playing stand-out shows at the Godiva Festival, Royal Henley Regatta and the prestigious London Jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s the singer/ songwriter has just released her debut EP ‘Silly Business’.

Writing exclusively for ABLE2UK Cecil opens up about the challenges her late uncle overcame and how he was a significant inspiration to her rising music career.

‘My mum’s brother, my Uncle Chris was always a huge influence on me musically, I learnt from him how to appreciate good music and what music means and can do for people. Right from the very beginning he was such a brilliant support to me, noticing that I had a talent and encouraging me to explore myself musically. From about the age of 9 years old, not a week would go by where I did not receive a collection of CD’s from him that would come through the letter box landing on the doormat and I would eagerly play them, usually before I had to leave for school, which caused some problems, and then later we’d spend hours on the phone taking about the music. As he saw me develop my talent he was always so honest with his feedback and helped me see where I could improve and he was brilliant at blending the right amount of support and challenge.

Uncle Chris loved all kinds of music, Mowtown, Northern Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Country and Pop as well as always being on the lookout for new artist pushing the boundaries and creating an authentic sound.

My Uncle Chris experienced a great deal of challenge in his life especially after suffering a violent attack by armed robbers in his work place and subsequently suffering post-traumatic stress disorder which had a dramatic effect on the quality of his life. Music always helped him in these dark times and as well as being a type one diabetic, his health suffered a great deal. Despite this he was an amazing Uncle to me and all his Nephews and Nieces taking an active interest in our lives and encouraging us in everything we did.

More challenge was to come his way when he later contracted a virus know as transverse myelitis - He had a very severe case of it which resulted in him becoming a paraplegic being paralysed from the middle of his back and in both legs. They operated to remove the damaged area and to stop it spreading, had they not done that he would have become totally paralysed. He was incredibly brave and despite all the challenges he faced, he loved life and was the most optimistic and kindest person who believed himself to be fortunate.

He spent over a year in hospital at Salford Royal Infirmary in Manchester which is one of the countries specialist spinal centres, where he worked incredibly hard at his physiotherapy building his upper body strength and mastered his wheelchair like a pro. Finally he was well enough to leave hospital and had only been in his new disability adapted flat for two weeks when a combination of infections put him into intensive care. He was placed into a medically induced coma while they tried to stabilise him but very, very sadly he started to suffer major organ failure and although he was clearly fighting to live he died within a week.

The last conversation I had with my Uncle Chris in hospital just before he died, I told him he has taught me so much about music and I promised him I would continue to work hard at it and make him proud. The last song of mine he heard before he died was ‘Light’, he loved it and said this is special, and I sang it for him at his funeral. In my family we keep those we love who have passed with us always and it’s like they haven’t gone, a bit like the Cannon Henry Scott-Holland poem which says “I have only slipped away into the next room”. I still feel Uncle Chris is with me every step of the way and his spirit is always close to me. No matter how tough I feel things get at times in my own life, I think of my Uncle Chris and how he overcame so much and lived a meaningful life and that continues to inspire me and give me purpose.

You can download ‘Silly Business’ from iTunes now.