In 2021, "I Love You, Always, Forever", the smash hit by Donna Lewis, turned 25. Lewis had BIG plans to mark the occasion, but a breast cancer diagnosis and gruelling treatment and recovery period (not to mention the pandemic) prevented her from making those a reality. Now she's back and sharing her many complex thoughts and feelings about her experiences through a brand new album titled "Rooms With A View."
The last few years have been decidedly rough for you, particularly personally, and you were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, the year your now world-famous, much-loved song "I Love You Always Forever" turned 25. How has such a major shift in and to your life impacted and influenced who you are, both personally and professionally?
I was looking forward to returning to performing with the band again, celebrating 25 years, so when my oncologist told me I had to take a whole year off, I was very disappointed and fearful of the future. It was a crazy year of various medical treatments and surgery, but writing and making music at home was my therapy. Plus, it made me realize I don't need to stress myself out trying to do too much. Life needs to be lived. In a professional sense, I want to create beautiful musical art.
Your latest single, "Corridors", is inspired by your cancer battle and is a thank you to the nurse who has helped you, Eileen, and all the other wonderful nurses in the world who make such a difference in people's lives at difficult times. How important to you was and is it to show your appreciation to Eileen and her fellow carers in this way?
In my journals, I had written about walking down the corridors of Memorial Sloan Kettering and getting my blood drawn before starting chemo, and as I'm such a baby with needles, I used to request the same nurse each time as she was so gentle and sweet and that was Eileen, so when Holmes sent me this particular instrumental track, Eileen popped into my head. All the nurses there were amazing, and I just wanted to say thank you.
Would you like to see more artists - and people in general - expressing thanks and appreciation to those in the medical profession? Lord knows they deserve ALL the love and thanks, right?
They all deserve it. I think most people do appreciate those in the medical profession. I just chose to write about it as they helped me so much!
The song is taken from your new album' Rooms With A View.' How would you describe it in a few words or a sentence?
'Rooms With A View' is an electronic soundscape of a deeply personal and emotional story. During my 12 weeks of chemo, I was in a different room each time. I would sit in my chair and look out the window; it was a different view each time. There was a feeling of calm and peace as I gazed out of the window, whether it was nature or a stationary object, and I could drift into a meditative state. Each song is a chapter of my story.
Could you choose your favourite song on the album, and if so, which is it and why?
That's a tough one! I feel the first five songs on the record are my favourites musically and lyrically: "The Messenger", "Corridors", "The Mark", "The Imposter" and "Rooms With A View."
What did Holmes Ives bring to the creative and recording process?
He started it all in a way. He sent me a bunch of instrumental tracks to see if they inspired me to write and collaborate. I ended up recording melodies immediately to some of them as they were so cool. "The Messenger" was the first one I was drawn to, as it had a darkness to it, and although I didn't plan to write about my personal story, the journal pages flooded into the music. Holmes' stunning electronic soundscapes inspired me, and I would record my vocals at home, send him my final stems and then he would create the magic. We would send each other new versions back and forth until we felt the song was done! We still have not met in person, but we will soon!
Writing and recording this album has been therapeutic and helpful for you and has been an outlet for your many emotions during the rollercoaster ride of treatment and recovery. With that in mind, what tips and advice would you give to anyone going through their own difficult time in life?
Just take a breath and take one step at a time! For me, I had to research and educate myself and, understand what was going on with my body and then have faith in the medical team around me. Never be afraid to ask for help. You'd be surprised how many friends are there for you in these situations, and it helped me enormously.
You're to become an ambassador for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. For anyone unfamiliar with the movement, can you share a little about it?
It's one of the largest breast cancer movements in the country, and it provides a supportive community for courageous breast cancer survivors through fundraising, advocacy, research, and patient support. These 3-5 mile non-competitive walks provide a supportive community for survivors and people living with metastatic breast cancer, caregivers and families alike.
How important is it to you that you can use both your personal experience and your platform as an artist to raise awareness of such a great cause? How does it make you feel to know you will likely inspire many people worldwide to get involved?
It means everything! Music has the incredible power of bringing people together and giving us an experience of being less alone, so if my story can help anyone going through a dark tunnel, it makes me happy.