Inspirational Woman: Melissa James | Founder of Sing4Sane The Big Sing Project

What inspired you to start the SING4SANE project?
Centre: Melissa James

The project was born from a song I wrote two years ago called Live Again.  It was my way of processing feelings towards the situation of someone close to me who was going through a very difficult time. When I first recorded it as an acoustic version – just voice and piano – I was surprised to find I could sense more of myself in this song than I’d realised.  When a song is recorded in this way, there is no where to hide so a lot was revealed to me about myself and my voice through the song’s message.

After the recording, I planned a performance to which I invited some amateur singers to join me in singing backing vocals on the song.  From there, my mind was brimming with thoughts about how the song could be used and, soon after, I began to organise a public Big Sing performance to which I invited anyone to come and sing with me in raising the message about mental health issues.  This happened at Heathrow’s Caffe Nero store in February this year.  That’s when the concept of SING4SANE was born.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in running the project yourself?

I love running projects like this because I get inspired by hearing the stories of others.  I like to feel that I’m doing something that might be helping another too.  On a “down day” it can be easy to want to give up but I’ll hear the story of someone else who is struggling or who has slipped through the system and that spurs me onward.  If the project was run by someone else, I’d have to refer to them about how I do things but, given the concept is mine and the project is run by me, I do things as I feel they should be done, allowing my instinct to be my guide.

Sometimes I get things right and sometimes not.  All lessons are a valuable learning curve for me in life and in my work.  I put-in a lot of effort to pull-off the events I organise and it’s a hell of a lot of work releasing a single but when I hear from someone that the song has touched them in some way, that makes it all worth all the effort.

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?

Failures are just as valuable as the successes and, indeed, there can’t be some success stories without the failures first.  In fact, I don’t even like to use the word failure.  A so-called failure is a great opportunity to see what more there is to gain.  I love the saying: Sometimes you win; sometimes you “learn”.  And that’s what happens.  We don’t always get things right but there’s always something valuable you can take away from the lesson.  What motivates me is my passion for music and for spreading what I feel is an important message through a song.  I also love connecting with people and music is a great tool for doing that. What I do is not about me, it’s about what I feel I’m here to give and to do to help others.  This became no more apparent to me than when, last year, a man turned-up at one of my concerts direct from LA to say thank you to me for the words of one of my songs which he said lifted him out of feeling suicidal.  When you know that that’s what you’ve done, what else can you do but keep putting one foot in front of the other – even on the days when you don’t much feel like it.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a charity fundraiser?  

Funding is always a big challenge.  I’m always wondering how I’m going to fund a project.  My ideas are big and if I feel excitement for an idea and that stays with me, I start to look at ways of making it a reality.  Big ideas are all good and well – somehow you have to make them happen and usually money is the stumbling block.  That, and trying to find the time to do everything that I’m keen to get done.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Hugely.  And I hope others will learn from me and my stories too.  I try to surround myself with people from whom I feel I can learn and with those who inspire me; those who are positive and determined.  And as I get underway with my projects I am drawn to those people who offer to help me in some way – acting as a sounding-board, sharing thoughts, enthusiasm or advice.  It’s amazing how giving people can be if they’re attracted to what you’re doing and share your passion for it.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

I love connecting with people.  I put myself out at networking events when I can. I’ve met so many great people who have become good contacts or good friends.  It’s important, I think, to keep expanding your circle.  Life works in cycles and those people with whom you are in regular contact at one time, you may not be so closely in contact with at another time.  It’s no bad thing, it’s just the way of things sometimes.  Changes happen and things move on.  New energy breeds new life and new ideas.  I genuinely love meeting new people all the time.

What does the future hold for you?  

I never know.  At the beginning of the year, I had no idea I would be recording Live Again as a charity single at RAK Studios.  I like that plans can change so quickly.  It means I try to go with the flow of life and leave room to be surprised by unexpected happenings.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t have ideas in mind for things that I’d like to happen, or that I never make any plans but I know that plans can change.  I try to remain open to the unplanned opportunities that can be thrown-up by the Universe.

The SING4SANE single of Live Again will release on Friday 28 October via all major online music stores but can be pre-ordered now via i-Tunes.

The SING4SANE promo of the song, Live Again, can be watched via YouTube.

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