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Sundre-area songwriter releases collaborative single

Linda Jean found new purpose through music following life-altering brain injury
Linda Jean, a Bearberry-area singer and songwriter who in 2017 sustained a life-altering brain injury, recently released a new single that was the result of a creative collaboration that spanned across the Atlantic. Submitted photo

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Seven years after sustaining a traumatic brain injury that forever altered the course of her life, a singer and songwriter from the Bearberry area who recently released a new collaborative single said pursuing her passion for music has provided renewed purpose.

“The whole point of life, I think, is finding your way through and doing the best with whatever situation you’re in and connecting with others,” said Linda Jean when asked what inspires her to stay motivated despite the daily difficulties she continues to endure.

On June 3, 2017, a mishap that sent Jean’s life into a tailspin left her reassessing her options upon no longer being able to drive as a result of the injury that to this day impedes her ability to function normally in society.

“The brain injury took away my life,” she told the Albertan during a late-May phone interview.

“But it gave me some other things.”

Seven years later, Jean has come a long way with music therapy proving an invaluable part of her recovery, including the 2021 release of a song inspired by her experience called Brain Cell as well as last spring’s release of an album called Blacktop Rollin.

“All this time, I’ve used my instruments as therapy for my physical issues, therapy for my heart and soul,” she said.

“I always say to people, I’m the least like myself I’ve ever been physically, but I’m the most true authentic self in my heart and my soul that I’ve been for a very, very, very long time.”

However, she does not expect to ever fully recover from the injury that partially impaired her vision, and every effort to perform can be both physically and mentally taxing, she said.

“I suffer for it. But I push myself to do things because I have to for my soul and my sanity.”

That dedication seems to have borne fruit, and where one door closed, others ended up opening instead. The release of Brain Cell went onto catch the attention of a songwriter from England who was searching for the right voice, she said.

“Four of my songs that I’ve written, including Brain Cell, became awarded with a certificate for being top-10 in a world songwriting competition,” she said.

Spending more time at home as a result of the injury ultimately led her to make online connections with talented individuals from around the world, including England where she also has family roots.

Among the new connections that paved the way toward a creative collaboration was Terry Dean, who had been captivated by Brain Cell and sought to enlist Jean’s talent as a vocalist to sing a song he’d written called Damage Limitation.

“It’s about a love that isn’t quite going right anymore,” she said. “And the question is: is this over, or can we make it work?”

Although she’d previously performed some covers, Jean said she’d never taken on this kind of project and was initially hesitant.

“He just kept at me,” she said with a laugh, adding she eventually relented and agreed to give it a shot.

“He sent me the track without the vocals, and it was in the wrong key so I just sang the song acapella,” she said, adding she also took the artistic liberty of tweaking the tune a touch.

“When I thought about how to approach a song that wasn’t my own that I hadn’t written that wasn’t my style, I just thought about Patsy Cline,” said Jean, who growing up learned to sing watching the famous singer.

“I sat there in my room as a child singing and singing and singing to Patsy Cline,” she said. “My brother still hates Crazy to this day because I sang it so many times.”

The original song, called Damage Limitation, is a story from a male perspective about re-evaluating whether a love on the rocks might yet have a road ahead.

Feedback Dean received persuaded him to re-write a version from a female’s perspective called Can We Go Any Further, she said.

It was “a process I’ve never embarked on before, taking someone else’s words and emotions and song and living inside it for many months, feeling it in my heart, and making it my very own,” she said.

After completing her version of the song, Jean sent an audio file back to her creative collaborators in England, who upon hearing it were through the roof.

“They just were going nuts,” she said, describing the project as, “The heart of British country music and Canadian country music (coming) together.”

Can We Go Any Further, which was recorded in Calgary with John Thiel through Horizon Music with backup vocals from Gloria Kae before being mastered by Richard Harrow, officially released on May 24.  

“I never would’ve met many of these amazing people if not for what happened,” she said, referring to her fateful brain injury.

“I believe with all my heart we were brought together through the magic of the universe,” she said.

“Things happen for a reason and there’s something waiting for everybody to discover about themselves. It’s kind of spiritual in a lot of ways.

“My message to anybody that has any sort of life-altering injury or illness is your life as you knew it may end, but you have to open your heart and soul to what’s coming because it’s a bit of a rebirth.”

Jean said she plans to perform on June 30 at the Sundre Rodeo Grounds during the West Country Cruisers car club’s show and shine.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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