Volunteer Spotlight: Singer Priscilla Woodson
The P.E.E.R. Center is very fortunate to have an amazing community of people who support us. Whether by donating money, volunteering time, or providing needed supplies (like coffee), these kind, caring people support us on a daily basis. One of those people is Priscilla Woodson, a local recording artist, singer, songwriter, mentor, radio personality, and actress. She believes in the power of music, art, and healing.
Priscilla has been volunteering with us for years, lending us her beautiful voice at our Recovery Celebration as well as singing at our first annual fundraiser last year. Every Thursday, Priscilla comes to The P.E.E.R. Center and sings to our associates, staff, and anyone who happens to be there. She doesn’t stop there. People make requests, sing duets, and even perform solos, all with the guidance of a professional singer and performer.
When someone gives so much of themselves to other people, it is important to share their story. We sat down with her before one of her Thursday performances to learn more.
Music, Art, and Healing with Priscilla Woodson
Question: We know you are a talented singer, but we don’t know why you volunteer for The P.E.E.R. Center. Can you explain?
Answer: I have battled with depression but no longer suffer from it. Because I come from a pathology of mental illness and depression this disease is near and dear to my heart, so I understand the struggle many of your people are going through. That is my connection to The P.E.E.R. Center and I want to give back.
I also see many people in the artistic community suffer in silence. When they are performing, they feel alive and safe; but when they are alone, they succumb to the loneliness and they are broken. The stigma of mental illness and addiction prevents them from seeking help. Since no one can spend all their time performing, we lose amazing people, because they don’t know how to fight their demons.
While I do believe the best of artists are born through unhappiness, it doesn’t mean they want to suffer. I know what pain and suffering is and I know that music and art have a role in healing. Art allows people to connect to other people, and that has immense value in recovery.
Question: What advice do you have for people working to reach recovery?
Answer: I take a holistic approach to health and wellness. We have to be right in our mind, body, and soul. We have to fight against the odds and follow through with our convictions. We all must aspire to greatness!
Question: Now that we know a little more about what drives you to volunteer, tell us who or what inspires you to sing? Favorite artists, types of music, and favorite instrument?
Answer: I don’t know that I can name favorite performer; there are so many and such a range. I love Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and I also love Adele and Whitney Houston. I have a genuine love for music and I can’t say I have a favorite, because all music moves me. Music is beautiful.
I don’t play any instruments, myself, but I love the acoustic guitar. It is the true essence of the music and it allows you to understand the full content. When a singer is paired with an acoustic guitar, I can listen for hours.
I am a gospel and jazz singer and I love that style of music a lot. Again, so difficult to pick a favorite. I can, and do, sing most styles.
Healing Never Sounded So Beautiful
In September of 2014, Priscilla left her corporate job after 20 years, a decision she says has made her happier than ever. Her contributions to the artistic community are massive, including releasing five albums with a sixth album and a book being released on January 31, 2015.
As the interview was wrapping up, I asked her if I could pick the first song she sang that day and, ever not the diva, she replied with an excited, “Of course!” I truly felt inspired that someone is out there spreading joy and inclusion and connecting with other people. It only seemed fitting that I choose, “At Last,” by Etta James.
She belted it out to a happy and energetic crowd and, as if to prove her point that music connects us to people, whenever I hear that song in the future, it will remind me of that moment – and all the people I shared it with.
Please visit Priscilla Woodson on the web at www.priscillawoodson.com