Kelsey Mira’s life changed inextricably when she contracted bacterial meningitis at the age of seven. Due to complications related to brain swelling caused by the infection, she suffered short-term memory loss which made remembering even the simplest things nearly impossible for her. But, a neurologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital had a solution. He recommended putting everything Kelsey needed to remember to music. Because the brain remembers song lyrics put to rhythm, by putting basic tasks she needed to remember — math formulas, addresses, faces — Kelsey was soon able to train her brain to remember. But that’s not the only thing that changed. As a result of endlessly singing and putting everyday tasks to rhythm, Kelsey discovered a love of music. “I owe both my recovery and the love of music to the people of Children’s,” Kelsey says.
So, when the opportunity to work with Hear The Hope came to her, Kelsey jumped at the chance. Kelsey not only wrote the lyrics & music for this month’s song “Into The Park,” she sings on the track as well. “I’ve always wanted to give back and help Children’s Hospital in any way that I could and it’s incredible to help them by giving back using music, especially since they are the reason I am a musician today.”
Inspired by her time at Children’s, Kelsey wrote the song that reminded her of her best friend that spent time in and out of the hospital, due to a heart condition. Together she and her friend Jenna, also a patient at Children’s, would pretend that they weren’t in the hospital, and instead had escaped to a magical park where all their dreams could come true. “Because of Jenna’s condition, she couldn’t run, so part of our imagining was running through a park,” Kelsey recalls. “I just hope everyone hearing the song — especially children stuck in their hospital room — will be able to have fun like Jenna and I did, imagining that they are running through the park when they hear it, too. I hope people will let their imaginations run wild and feel a sense of adventure and freedom. I hope it brings smiles and hope.”
And that it does. Accompanying Kelsey on the track is Gabriel Schulten, who plays the smooth saxophone throughout. “I loved working with Gabe,” Kelsey adds. “Hearing his creative process come to life was so inspiring. He is such a talent!” Like Kelsey, Gabe benefited from his time spent at Children’s Hospital. Gabe’s mother, Mariela Jaen, looked to Children’s Hospital for support as soon as her son Gabe was diagnosed as a child with Asperger Syndrome (Autism). Like Kelsey, Gabe’s life was made infinitely better by music. “Music helped Gabe to socialize better with his peers. He wasn’t able to form sentences until he was five years old, but the music was a source of healing. Even when he was sensitive to loud noises, he would hear music with a lot of instruments on it like a sax, trumpet, or violin, and his fingers would start moving to the rhythm of the music.” Mariela says. “It’s still fascinating to see him doing that.
The first instrument he learned to play was the piano. Even though he was not able to talk, he could express his feelings by playing or singing songs. Later at the elementary level, when he was more verbal he joined the band at St. Ignatius. There he played the drums and other percussions instruments. Then during the summer before entering high school, he taught himself how to play a sax. I saw his interest and I got him some classes. Later he joined the Roger Bacon Band, later their RB 3 Rock band; and now he’s also on the concert band.”
Even though Mariela was concerned about bringing Gabe to the recording session to perform sax on the song (because he would be meeting everyone for the first time), Gabe was unfazed. “They all made him feel so comfortable that he felt right at home in that studio,” Mariela says. And in Gabe’s own words: “It was cool” to be able to work with Kelsey, CJ, Toby, and Chris recording the song.
”The song has such a positive message,” Mariela adds. “Kelsey wants kids like Gabe to hear this song and to remember they are “incredible.” That’s incredible! She believes this song also encourages kids to follow their dreams and as the song says to “play that melody and be who you want to be.” For kids like Gabe, Mariela notes, going into the park to “see what you got, let it all out,” is a bit more difficult. “But, Gabe always has his music to bring him happiness and let him be with other people,” she says. “Even though others he interacts with may not have autism, they have music — which is the bridge.”
Both Gabe and Kelsey’s healing journey with music is far from over. Kelsey is working on releasing an album this year. You can visit her website by clicking here. And Gabe just graduated from High School. He will be studying computer engineering at Cincinnati State, and he wants to incorporate music in his studies.
Both want people hearing the song to know that music is healing — music is hope. And like the lyrics, with music anyone can be unstoppable.
All the wonder is yours; the power is in your heart
Close your eyes and dream, sing a melody, be all you want to be
And if you dream it will make you unstoppable
I believe, we have power in all of us
Let’s go into the park, see what’s inside; let it all out
- FEATURED SONG: “Into The Park”
- OUR HERO: Kelsey Mira
- ARTIST(S): Kelsey Mira
- COMPOSER: Kelsey Mira
- VOCALS: Kelsey Mira
- INSTRUMENTS: Kesley Mira (synths, piano, keys, beats, acoustic guitar), Gabe Schulten (saxophone), CJ Lambert (electric guitars, bass)
- PRODUCED BY: Kelsey Mira, CJ Lambert
- ENGINEERED BY: Kelsey Mira, CJ Lambert, Toby Christensen
- EDITED, MIXED & MASTERED BY: CJ Lambert