'Unsewn Heartland' - 'Fragments' (single)
Most people have their own Festive traditions of some kind, whether it be annual trips to Christmas markets, or those simple family things - we have this crazy little one in our home that involves ringing a small festive bell every time we enter the house. In Stockholm a very special, and hopefully now traditional Christmas concert took place yesterday afternoon featuring Argentinian born / Swedish based songwriter Natalie Beabella and dedicated to Hanna Westerlund, who started the tradition by having a similar concert last year - both events were streamed live on Facebook. Hanna performed and released music under the name 'Unsewn Heartland' (which is an anagram of her name), but sadly she passed away this year after a brave battle against an aggressive form of Leukemia.
Hanna was born in Borlänge, a beautiful town which has a great tradition of producing musicians and songwriters (Miss Li, Sugarplum Fairy and more), and singing was the centre point of her childhood, performing in a musical at Brunnsviks folkhögskola at an early age, joining the Borlänge youth and then gospel choir, and then winning a local talent show at Mellstaparken in the town at the age of just 11. Performing at christenings, weddings and funerals, her music tastes broadened and seeing great musicians such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith perform live in Stockholm inspired her further, enrolling in a composition course and recording a version of one of her favourite songs 'Moonriver', as well as her fathers translation of Bob Dylans 'Masters of War'. Music was her complete life and meant everything to her.
Her song 'Fragments' was released after she was diagnosed with Leukemia, with the help of musician and producer Natalie Knutzen, who was the course leader of the composition course she attended. Released in April this year through Swedish indie label 'El Sol y La Luna Music' (who also have Elisif Norrman and Natalie Beabella on their roster, and hosted yesterdays Christmas concert) it's a warm, melodic and well written track which should capture your attention in particular for the heartfelt, thoughtful lyrics - ''I’ve wasted my time contemplating insignificant fragments / And so it seems it has intoxicated me''.
Her courageous fight against her illness is documented in her blog 'Unsewn Heartland', which had tears streaming down my face when I first read it a few months ago. But it is truly inspirational too, and if telling her story reminds everyone that we should follow our dreams and passions and not spend our time 'contemplating insignificant fragments', well that's clearly a good thing. Christmas was a particular special time of year for her, and one of her favourite Christmas songs was ''Somewhere in my Memory" by John Williams - it's such a beautiful track, so maybe if you have your own Christmas playlists at home you'll all add it and always remember that it was her favourite, as I've just done in my house.
I know how difficult it must be for her family and friends this Christmas, and we send our thoughts and best wishes from Nordic Music Review. She was clearly a total inspiration to all those around her, and her memory will live on through her music and her words, as well as, of course, that lovely Christmas house concert tradition she started last year.
Hanna's 'Unsewn Heartland' blog with more details on her music can be found here, Swedish indie record label 'El Sol y La Luna Music' have their own website, and we'll always try to feature their releases going forward if we can. The single cover was photograhed / designed by Alina Wass Widinghoff.