A musical recovery

Folk artist Sheryl Clapton shares music after coping with amnesia
Sunday, May 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:02 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The artist: Sheryl Clapton suffered from total amnesia in 1997. She moved from California to Albuquerque, N.M., where she worked as an on-site radio producer, and has lived in Columbia since last July. As an AmeriCorp Vista volunteer, she fixes computers at the Intersection, a local activity center.

The art: Most of Clapton’s music is acoustic folk/rock. On “Music From Our Shores” (2001), a variety of instruments support her while her lyrics touch on spirituality, nature and peace.

Clapton produces her own albums. She contributed to OnlineRock’s 2001 sampler “Rock for America.” Her albums have been high on the folk charts in the United States and Australia. Listeners of the New Artist Radio of Salt Lake City named Clapton folk/pop artist of 2002.

On the Internet:

How did you begin creating art?

“I did it as a spiritual healing. I played music all my life, but since 1997, I’ve been recovering from total amnesia. In 1998, I picked up the guitar and it started flowing. I’ve had several albums out since then. I’d start off by meditating, starting to write about beautiful, peaceful things — generally miracles. I’d have pages of words, pick up a guitar or keyboard and music would flow out. The words would fit; it’s so rewarding to create something.

“I’ve been in the top 10 in Australia for the last three years. It’s great when people e-mail you. Our world is a worldwide community and we’re all part of one. I love the direct interaction with people. It’s positive, thought-provoking.”

What is the best part about the process of artistic expression?

“It’s given me a tool to help people smile because whenever I perform, no matter what age it is, people have come up and wanted to talk with me about it.

“I like to go to retirement centers and perform. I love to see their smiles. People that are older than myself, I respect them. It’s important for myself to put myself in front of them and show them where I stand. And if they like it and accept my message, I feel better performing it to the younger people. They’re guardians; they know so much.”

Where or whom do you turn to for inspiration?

“I let things flow ... always God, I am a Christian. It’s part of growing and maturing. I think of our soul as a magical being that lives in our body that has so many ways of expression: music, poetry, smiles.

“I love interacting and working with children and love to see the youth I work with and their minds open up to something new. It’s a perpetual wheel of learning and understanding when they tell you you worded it well. It’s fascinating because it’s how we solve our problems — by communicating! It inspires me immensely.

“All of nature is an inspiration. The way things work together in synchronicity, the timing. Each song has its own time to come out. Each song is its own entity, has its own story, almost like a little book. They come out more like chapters in a book, and that’s how I see them. Each song has its own reasons. It’s a way of learning and understanding. It’s a vital form of expression.”

What do you do if your creativity seems blocked?

“I generally go out and collect more data. I walk or go to social event, watch TV. I don’t try to force it; I feel like whenever it’s right for me, it’ll flow, and meanwhile, I’ll live.

“I haven’t written much in the last few weeks, but if I were to write I’d be tempted to write something along the lines of the idea that instead of warring, let’s try talking; let’s try putting down our guns and try communicating — there’s just too little of it.”

Describe the environment in which your creative muscles function best.

“On a beautiful sunrise, that’s my most creative time of the day. It’s so fresh and alive. I love the morning. It’s so in tune with nature. You’re sitting there and all the birds are singing, so full of life — everything feels new. I’d be on my couch, having coffee, just watching the sun rise and the changing colors from darkness to light. I get into sunset also, but it’s a different sort of energy. In the morning, you have all of the day. My mind and spirit has had time to digest; nothing has affected my creative flow. It turns into more of a creative river rather than a single boat.”

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