Today marks the release of singer-songwriter Emma Ballantine’s Somebody’s Story EP, a special collection of tracks which have been inspired by real-life stories sent in to her.
Around six months ago, Emma invited people to share their stories with her, and in return she would give them a global voice by turning them into songs. Since the project began, we have heard ‘Astronaut’, about a 7000 mile journey to Kenya which was inspired by love at first sight; ‘Harmonise’, about a chance encounter in a dive bar in Chicago; and ‘Secret Tunnel’, which speaks about a girl’s determination to move on with her life following a harrowing court case.
The final piece of the puzzle is ‘Through Your Eyes’, which is inspired by the unique way that a young autistic boy sees the world. Released just in time to mark Autism Awareness Day (April 2), ‘Through Your Eyes’ tells the story of 14-year-old James, as told by his mother Nancy.
My son’s obsession with roads was driving me crazy. “I’ve been interested in Interstate 83 since Mother’s Day 2014!” he told me. Really? It had only been a little over a year? It felt a lot longer. James is thirteen, and over the years his autism has been responsible for perseverations on shapes, numbers, time, music and maps. The interests come on suddenly, last anywhere from a week to a few years, and get pretty intense.
“Sometimes the fixations are cool, sometimes mind-boggling, and sometimes just plain irritating. Eventually, no matter what the topic, I get to a point where I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE!
“But my exasperation flew out the window during a recent drive—an excursion to indulge James’s burning desire to glimpse his favorite skyline view of our city from his favorite stretch of his favorite highway. As we sped down the road, James could not contain his gleeful bursts of laughter. I internally shook my head, baffled and yes, slightly annoyed, at the intensity of his pleasure.
“I must be the luckiest boy in the world, because I like so many things!” he exclaimed.
My perspective shifted at sixty miles per hour.
How do I get to where he is?
My son, who needs help understanding so many things, perfectly comprehends what it means to live in the moment and appreciate. Great music, gorgeous sunny days, bike rides (and of course highway drives), family, and HIMSELF. I spend so much time trying to teach my son so many things, but I need to learn this important lesson from him.
To see the positive, not the negative. And not just to see it, but to revel in it. And be grateful for it.
Many people say kids with autism see only the concrete. This is a myth my son dispels almost daily. Last year, on my Mother’s Day card, he wrote, “I love the spirit of you.” I love the spirit of you too, James. Sometimes that gets lost in the clatter of therapists, tutors, protocols, and criticisms that crowd our days. But even though James is, in so many ways, a work in progress, his spirit is a masterpiece.
Previously published in Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Power Of Gratitude
After hearing James’ story, Emma set out to share it with the world through song. But first, she came to understand him even better after discovering his electronic music tracks on SoundCloud. In fact, ‘Through Your Eyes’ credits James as a co-writer, and features samples from his track ‘Don’t Bore Anyone’s Ears’, created with Baltimore-based producer and beat-boxer Max Bent.
A combination of layered synths intertwined with elements of James’ track, ‘Through Your Eyes’ is a stunning offering from Emma which gives a special insight into James’ world. Her haunting vocal draws your attention instantly, and we can’t help but be moved by the song’s lyrics. ‘Through Your Eyes’ shows that people with autism can often have a deeper appreciation of the world, a mindset which we could all learn from.
We’re proud to premiere ‘Through Your Eyes’ today, so press play and immerse yourself in James’ story, through Emma’s eyes.
‘Through Your Eyes’ is the fourth and final track from Emma’s Somebody’s Story EP, which is out now via all platforms.
To keep up to date with what Emma does next, visit her website.