Jacksonville singer-songwriter is in it for the art

Singer-songwriter Nancy Wilson Buckler
Singer-songwriter Nancy Wilson Buckler. (Facebook photo; credit Darla McHenry Pittman)

I first met Nancy Wilson Buckler through my daughters’ music. Nancy lives in Jacksonville (FL), and I know her son and daughter-in-law and their children.

Some time ago my own daughters told me they’d had a great time listening to Nancy play the guitar and sing. They said she had a fantastic voice.

A new CD Nancy produced is a testament to that voice, and one song in particular touched me in a way that few songs do. Nancy has no idea I am writing this. And she has no idea about something in my past that figured heavily in my appreciation of her song.

I don’t know what inspired her song, “Hello from Heaven.” I do know it was like an arrow piercing my heart when I heard it. The song’s title is a giveaway—it’s about losing someone you love. But the speaker in the lyrics is obviously a child attempting to reassure those who lost him or her. The song is sentimental, with minimalist chords and a voice that, to rely on a timeworn adage, sounds like an angel.

Music can reach into the deepest places in your soul. Nancy doesn’t know much about my past, so she couldn’t realize how directly her song spoke to me. When I was a girl, my younger brother died suddenly. He was just a baby. In my memoir, I disclosed the devastating effect that death had on my family. My brother’s passing was one of several catastrophic events in my family’s life at that time. It took my mother many years to ease her grief.

My brother’s death also figured in my poetry.

Rebecca and I were on our way to one of her solo shows when we played Nancy’s CD. I was so surprised—this woman I knew as a grandmother like me is also a singer and songwriter. I tried to locate a site where the CD is sold, but I have so far failed. I plan to ask her about that.

My younger brother’s birthday was last month. Every year I clip a piece of rosemary and light a candle for him. I do this for all our loved ones who have passed on. I call his name aloud so that he isn’t forgotten when I am no longer here in the flesh. One of the motifs in “Hello from Heaven” is a butterfly. I’ve long perceived messages in nature and my family members will, not without some reluctance, admit those messages are usually right. Maybe it’s a Celt thing.

CD by Nancy Wilson Buckler
CD by Nancy Wilson Buckler

The butterfly is a long treasured friend of mine, one reason I plant so many flowers, herbs, and bushes that attract them. Nancy’s song is just as beautiful as all those magnificent butterflies I take joy in every year when I sit on my deck or work outside.

Some artists aim for glory and fame. Others go after the money. Nancy Wilson Buckler chose to aim for art and art alone. The result is a song that, when I played it again this morning, transported me once more to decades in the past, to a time when my life changed so drastically. “Hello from Heaven” is not a complicated song. There are (mercifully) no long guitar riffs or moments where the vocalist tries to hit every note on the scale to demonstrate prowess.

There is just a simple, heartfelt message and a clear, lovely voice that left me deeply touched, one artist to another. In listening to the song, I took comfort over that long ago grief that still from time to time surfaces inside my heart and head. All I can say is I am grateful Nancy shared this song and the others on her CD. My daughters were right. Nancy does have a fantastic voice. And a beautiful soul as well.

Some artists go for money, fame, glory. Nancy just goes for the art, and she does that exceptionally well.

[Updated May 9, 2019] Visit Nancy’s songwriter page at Facebook where you’ll also find details about how to purchase her CD.

(Kay B. Day/April 18, 2019)

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