Songwriter to the stars, Eliot Kennedy, launches a charity album, Hidden Wounds, today (Friday 12 May) to raise awareness around mental health. Download here
The album features singer Joanne Heselden-Edwards, daughter of Jimi Heselden who invented the Hesco Bastion ‘blast wall’ used in every major conflict since the 1991 Gulf War, saving countless lives. Jimi died in a tragic accident, aged 62. He donated millions in his lifetime to charity.
Leeds-based Joanne said, “I am so proud of my debut album, Hidden Wounds, which was inspired by my dad. He gave over a million pounds to Help for Heroes in his lifetime, and the album continues that legacy”
Eliot said. “I am passionate about widening the conversation around mental health. You don’t need to serve in war zones to experience trauma. Hidden Wounds is as a song about losing someone – for Jo that was her dad – the concept is you can’t see psychological wounds, so it’s difficult to really know if anyone is really suffering.”
The Sheffield-based Grammy award-winning songwriter has sold 80 million records and penned hits for Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan Adams, Take That and The Spice Girls. He has opened up about his own experiences dealing with mental ill-health in his family.
“When I was 12, my mother was institutionalised for a year after the death of her mother. Dad was an alcoholic. Their marriage was torturous, sometimes violent. Mentally, mum lost herself and Dad was AWOL. Still a child, I took on everybody’s problems and grew up fast to shoulder the responsibility that wasn’t mine to shoulder.
“After the doctors worked out the right medication for my mum, she came home. I saw first-hand, with my mum, how important mental health services are. I gained a deep respect for mental health treatment.”
Kennedy, who has written the Broadway hit musical Finding Neverland with Gary Barlow, hopes the song will get more people talking about their mental health.
“Music is the backstage pass to everybody’s soul. When words, as the cliché goes, fail, music opens up the doors to expression. It can get you through tough times,” Eliot said.
He also raised flags around the vulnerability of young people in the music industry. “They’re not prepared for the power they get to wield, and they’re definitely not prepared for it when that power is taken away. The only people who really get it, are those people who know it isn’t real, it was just borrowed.
“I can count on one hand – my friend Gary Barlow being one – those celebrities who have got the balance right and managed to safeguard their real life, their personal lives, from the addictions of fame.”
In 2013, Eliot travelled to Camp Bastion with Gary Barlow for an ITV documentary, Journey to Afghanistan. Barlow made a guest appearance when Eliot debuted the title song of the album at the first ever concert in aid of psychological wellbeing for serving military personnel and veterans last November. The concert raised £60,000.
“Ultimately, we’re all the same – we’re all vulnerable,” Eliot said. “That recognition in itself makes you realise you’re not an island – we have to build those bridges to reach each other. You’re not in that big dark hole alone, it just feels that way. Nothing gets solved in silence.”
Eliot added, “We’re all really proud to be part of this wider, national sea change around mental health issues. Music has the power to inspire, enlighten and heal us in our darkest moments.”
Hidden Wounds, featuring Joanne Heselden-Edwards, is available on Friday 12th May via iTunes and Amazon. All profits go to Help for Heroes.