How Sound Affects...."Sound Is A Memory"


This month's contributor to "How Sound Affects" is CecilyCecily is a young vocalist and songwriter whose sweet soprano and honest lyrics have garnered attention and loyal fans not only in her native Washington DC, but also up and down the East Coast. Unmoved by passing trends, her sound is rooted in a deep appreciation for mid-century soul and jazz, 90’s R&B, and re-imagined folk music. She describes her style as Acoustic Pop Soul, and has drawn comparisons to artists as distinct as Deniece WilliamsBrandy, and Corinne Bailey-RaeCecily’s self-titled debut EP was released in May 2015.   

Sound has made me who I am. I was raised on sound - ordered sound, what we call music: Jackson 5 in the morning, ZZ Hill in the afternoon, Bob Marley at bedtime. These sounds were as much a part of my life as the music of my mother's jingling bangles, my father's melodic whistling around the house, and my sister's tap dancing down the hall way.

As an adult, these sounds take me back to the safe place that was my childhood, and in that safe place, I can heal myself. I'm just me. No trying. No yearning. Sound is memory and that's one reason I treasure it so much. I'm not one of those people who thinks music is a universal language. Our understanding of music and our reaction to it are socialized. What sounds like music to someone who grew up on an isolated island in Indonesia, might sound like noise to someone who grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, and vice versa.

How sound affects me, as a privileged Black woman who grew up in Washington, DC with older siblings raised in the 80s, and parents born in the mid-twentieth century, is unique. My experience with sound is what roots me. It's my starting point and my foundation. No matter where I go, what I do, or what new sounds become a part of my life, certain sounds will always be home - like how Gil Scott-Heron throws his voice on "The Bottle," or how my mother laughs, or the descending vocal run Michael Jackson hits in "You Can't Win" from The Wiz, or my brother's booming voice telling funny stories, or the coolness of Miles Davis' "So What," or the sound of my own breath - those will always be home.


- Cecily