She’s watched funnel clouds form over the Prairies, but tornadoes were largely a theoretical concept to Red Deer singer Alecia Aichelle — until one morning last spring.
Aichelle woke up in Nashville on March 3 to the news 25 people had been killed and 309 injured by a series of tornadoes that ripped a two-thirds-of-a-mile wide swath through Tennessee.
The performer, who’d been living in the country music capital since last fall, had heard blasts of wind and thunder before falling asleep. Mercifully, she was living 20-minutes away from where the cyclones touched down, causing $1.6 billion in damage.
Aichelle recalled driving out to North and East Nashville with a group of neighbours and church volunteers to help with the debris cleanup. The devastation to homes and businesses was “overwhelming,” said the singer, of the sixth costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
“I had always been kind of fascinated by weather and the sky, but this definitely showed me the impact it can make.”
After meeting several shaken residents of North Nashville, Aichelle realized there’s a positive side even to natural disasters: they bring people together.
“This one person told us, ‘I didn’t know any of my neighbours before this and now I know everybody…’”
Aichelle reflected that it’s important, when dealing with life’s hardships, to “choose to find the silver lining.”
This personal mantra was soon to be tested when a global pandemic followed the tornadoes, swiftly closing all of Nashville’s concert venues and making songwriting collaborations an online exercise.
Aichelle admitted she began going” stir crazy” in self-isolation by mid-April, so she loaded her French bull dog into the car and went for a drive in the country.
She recalled losing her bearings on a rural road and experiencing a familiar rush of freedom.
“I like going where your phone doesn’t even know where you are,” Aichelle admitted.
This experience sparked her latest single, Get Lost, which is now available through iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and online music providers.
Aichelle collaborated with songwriter/producer Daniel Dennis to come up with the lyrics: “Get lost, just the two of us, Leave the day-to-day in a cloud of dust…”
She hopes listeners who are feeling stuck in a rut during this pandemic will get some inspiration and comfort from the tune.
Although Aichelle had many wonderful professional experiences in Nashville (including performing in venues along the famed Music Row, and writing with Canadian country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson), she opted to return to Alberta early to perform curbside concerts for Lacombe’s reworked Canada Day festivities.
The Kelowna-born singer, whose family lives in Red Deer, feels great to be home, where she’s previously opened for touring artists such as Aaron Pritchett, Aaron Goodwin and the Bellamy Brothers.
While Aichelle intends to record a follow-up album to her 2016 debut, Golden, she’s content to weather the pandemic by teaching music remotely to her students — and by creating a music video for Get Lost.
Aichelle wants to include photographs of what other central Albertans are doing to “get lost during a pandemic.”
Anyone wanting to contribute a still image of themselves fishing, camping, playing ball, or any other activity, should send it by July 25 to Aichelle by Instagram or Facebook Messenger.