Songs of hope

Songwriter Holly Knife signs a copy of her first musical collaboration with local singer Lilian Donahue during a CD release party at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Nov. 17. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Holly Knife has been writing since her early teenage years, but she’s never written something as important as this.

On Saturday, the Prince Albert songwriter officially released her first CD in collaboration with local singer Lilian Donahue. Titled, ‘Angel Blue,’ an inversion of the Roy Orbison hit ‘Blue Angel,’ the songs reflect a time of healing and hope from a songwriter who once had very little of either.

“I got sick and I felt like I lost my mind temporarily,” said Knife following the release party. “But, I got over it and I hoped to write again. It was just like God kept me around now, because I could have been gone.”

Knife’s illness was so severe she had to leave Prince Albert for treatment. She returned in 2012, and immediately connected with the Prince Albert Canadian Mental Health Association Writing for your Life Group. She was one of several authors who contributed to a group anthology, but she was more into songs and poetry than stories.

The group’s writing instructor suggested she find a singer to perform her songs, and introduced her to Donahue. It was the first time either artist had collaborated on this type of project.

“I was very concerned that I interpret the song the way Holly wanted, rather than the way I wanted,” Donahue said afterwards. “It was stretching me in terms of style. I was trying to think what would go with this particular song. I found it very interesting.”

With many of her troubles in the rearview mirror, Knife hopes the seven tracks on ‘Angel Blue’ will help other people find peace and hope when they none.

“Helping them is more important than any money in the world,” she explained.

Knife also plans to keep writing, although she’s nervous about the prospect. The process requires serious introspection and brutal honesty, she explained, and there’s no telling where that will lead. Still, she’s looking forward to the journey.

“I don’t know what’s going to come (out) when I start getting more into writing,” she chuckled. “It’s up to God now.”