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Michaela Therese: Buro 24/7 Singapore Playlist #156

How music heals

Text: Michaela Therese


Michaela Therese gives an insight into her pursuit of music as therapy in this week's playlist

As some of you good people may have noticed, I've been absent from the public eye — and it's not just because I've moved from Singapore to London. I've also significantly reduced my social media presence in the last couple of years. To be honest, the longer I'm offline, the more I appreciate my life and the more connected I am to the sounds, sights, smells and feels of the world and the people I love. I am embarking on a new journey right now. It's still music — it will ALWAYS be music — but it's a perspective on healing through music in a way that I've never considered before. About two years ago, I discovered that music therapy isn't just a phrase we use to talk about how good music makes us feel, it's also an actual practice that bases physical and emotional healing on our most basic and primal ways of being — our natural musicality. Music speaks to the beating of our hearts; the rhythm of our footsteps; the dynamic surges of our blood rushing through our bodies and the electricity of our nervous system; the melody of our speech. When you listen to this playlist, I'd like you to observe how the songs I've chosen affect all of those things in your body, mind and soul. There's a reason music is SO. DAMN. POWERFUL.

The Gospel vibes of D'Angelo's 'Higher' perfectly describes how musical elements can literally take you to a place the title is suggesting. In therapy I may pick up on the part of a person's soul that is reaching out and waiting to connect and use the music we make together to draw it out. To me, Nina Simone is the epitome of expressive music. Her raw and authentic vocal and piano performance is an extension of her true self. 'Wild Is The Wind' is one of my favourite songs by her. She just sings it like it is. We've evolved to forget the power of our voices and that's how we forget who we are. Finding our true voices and being unapologetic about using it is a huge part of music therapy and Simone is the perfect inspiration for that.

I chose 'Thieves in the Night' because Hip Hop in its original form is the bringing together of music from every corner of the world, sampling sounds from difference places into one tightly packed head-bopping beat. There are so many layers to it like there are so many layers to us. Never forget the power of history. Never dismiss the power of sound. Never overlook the relevance in a rapper's verse. 'Keep The Faith' is a tragically underrated Michael Jackson song. It exhibits that certain type of song that gets you revved up and ready to go, ready to start something, ready to believe in yourself and the world again. We all need anthems like that.

Music brings back memories. I chose "Come Rain Or Come Shine" to close up the playlist because it evokes such powerful memories in me of my grandpa. He gave me the greatest gift of my life — he introduced me to the piano and it has been my most treasured companion since. Familiar music has been used in music therapy to light up the eyes of the most withdrawn person with Alzheimer's, triggering memories even when speech has been lost. 

Michaela Therese is a jazz-influenced, soul-packed, one-woman, vocalist-pianist. Born and bred in Singapore, she has played almost every stage in the city and has released 2 EPs and 1 full-length album. A veteran of the scene, she is currently expanding her horizons and pursuing a Masters in Music Therapy in London. Like Michaela's Facebook page for current updates on new music and upcoming performances.

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