Leaving on a high note
Published Saturday, October 15, 2011 5:57PM MDT
A Calgarian singer is calling her career a wrap, but not by choice.
Cindy O'Neil is being forced to stop singing by arthritis and the medication she takes to fight her ailment.
Saturday she sang one final song.
Cindy O'Neil can barely imagine not being able to sing and, sadly, she will have to get used to the idea.
Over a decade ago, O'Neil was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis.
The diagnosis came just as her career was beginning to flourish.
She was getting radio play, her songs appeared on two soundtracks and in several music videos.
However, the arthritis quickly crippled both her and her career.
"I couldn't perform. I was trying to perform but I couldn't remember words," says O'Neil. "I couldn't speak sentences properly. I'd lost weight. I was disabled. It got to the point where I couldn't dress myself."
With her medication severely affecting her voice, O'Neil ultimately left the music industry and Calgary. She moved to Ontario with her fiance.
There was one piece of unfinished business, stemming from a night in Calgary a few months before she left.
"In one night, we wrote this song and we both felt it was so strong, we felt like it really worked," says singer Andrea "Sora" Hunt. "We performed it a couple of times live, and the audience seemed to agree with us, so we always wanted to record it."
The singers never had a chance to record it until Saturday afternoon.
Hunter conspired with O'Neil's fiancé and they arranged to fly O'Neil to Calgary. A recording studio was booked and the two women were able to finally record the song while they still could.
"This will be the only chance she and I have to have our voices together in song, to have the song we wrote recorded," says Hunter. "To have something that I can share with my children and that she can share with the people in her life. This one moment before her voice gets completely stripped away."
The recording was a bittersweet moment for O'Neil.
The emotion of returning to a recording studio conflicted with the knowledge that she was most likely setting foot in a studio, as a singer, for the last time.
O'Neil says even though this is her last song, it may not be her last chance.
She wants to keeping writing music and working with other artists. She's hoping the voice she's lost can be heard through them.