Kara Jane is a singer with a voice that touches the heart.
Its sweet, clear tone conveys both vulnerability and strength, creating a heartfelt connection with her audience.
There is a melancholic quality too, hinting at a deeper pain: Kara is seriously ill with ME, with a life expectancy that could be very limited. Despite her condition she has retained the ability to sing a small amount, and her dream is to produce an album of her own songs while it is still possible. Today, on international ME awareness day, I am appealing to musicians and audio engineers who may be able to help achieve this dream.
Kara, 29, lives in the UK and has a severe form of ME. (What Is ME?) Until the age of 16 she was a healthy young woman, who – in the words of her sister – was “loud, crazy, and always laughing.”
Kara before her illness took hold
Kara was diagnosed with ME after suddenly losing the ability to walk. Using a wheelchair she was able to attend university and complete a degree, but her condition steadily deteriorated. Seven years ago, in 2013, she became bedridden.
Today Kara is unable to sit up, suffers severe pain and requires constant nursing care. She is dependent on oxygen to help her breathe and has a urinary catheter inserted into her abdomen. Kara’s ME has had a particularly severe impact on her immune system. In a blog post last year, she wrote:
“I have been hospitalised far more times than I can count with life threatening infections. Over the last two years I’ve almost spent more time in hospital than at home.”
On numerous occasions she has battled sepsis, a potentially life-threatening reaction to infection. Doctors have warned Kara and her family that she is unlikely to survive the next severe attack, which could happen at any time.
“The last [hospital admission] was a close call, and the calls keep getting closer – I’m in endlessly crippling pain and I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up,” Kara wrote in her blog last summer.
I met Kara through the online ME community and we have been friends for several years. She is a positive, uplifting young woman who brings comfort to many. I am constantly humbled by her strength, not only in the face of such a poor prognosis but also in enduring tremendous physical suffering every day.
A rare trip into the garden
I asked her how she finds the strength to cope, and she wrote:
“Life is what you make of it, no matter what hand you were dealt. In the Bible it says that God is love. So for me it’s as simple as that: love is the be all and end all. If you try to live with love as your guiding motive (as much as is humanly possible!) then you can’t go too far wrong.”
It’s no coincidence that her first single, released last month, is called This Is Love.
Kara has written a collection of songs inspired by her suffering. A gifted songwriter, with an ability to craft powerful lyrics and beautiful melodies, her music remains in the heart long after listening. The themes of loss, pain and fragile hope will resonate with many, particularly in these difficult times.
With the help of a family friend who works in a recording studio, Kara has recorded her vocals from her bed. As she is unable to sing more than a line or two at once, and with hospital admissions adding further delays, this a process that has taken nearly two years.
Recording vocals from her bed, one line at a time
With the vocals now completed, Kara is asking for help from musicians who would be willing to write and record instrumental parts, based on her ideas. She is also looking for an audio engineer to mix the recordings and create a finished sound. Although the method of working presents challenges, Kara hopes that these can be overcome through creativity and an ability to adapt.
Graphic designers or video editors would also be appreciated, to help with album art work and promotional material. It is Kara’s wish that any profits from the resulting album should be donated to biomedical research into ME. Her hope is to increase understanding and awareness of the illness that has taken so much from her.
Any help will be gratefully received, but it is important to stress that time is limited. Kara’s health is extremely fragile and she could suffer another serious infection at any time. (Indeed, between the writing and publication of this post, she was twice rushed to hospital.)
Kara’s first single, This Is Love, gives a glimpse of her talent, as both a singer and songwriter.
Since the video footage was shot in 2016, Kara’s condition has deteriorated further and she is no longer able to leave the house, except for emergency hospital admissions.
How to contact Kara
Anyone able to help Kara can contact her either through her website or by messaging her on her Facebook page. She may not be well enough to respond straight away, but all enquiries will be gratefully received. Thank you in advance.
Update – 19th May 2020
Please see This Is Love: An Update for news of developments since this post was written.
Images: Sunset by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash; all other photographs courtesy of Kara Jane.