A Burnley singer-guitarist whose battle with cancer reignited her passion for music is set to light up this weekend’s Burnley Rock and Blues Festival.
Emily Hutchinson (24) will be playing the free open-air Charter Walk stage on Sunday with Y.O.U. 62, a band made up of four fellow cancer patients from Christie’s Hospital in Manchester.
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2011, finishing her treatment in May the following year. Currently in remission she is enjoying being part of a musical project which carries as much inspiration as it does talent.
“There are two music therapists at the hospital who try and get patients involved with music,” she said. “This is how the band was formed, from patients going to weekly music sessions. There’s a large turnover of people in the band because people are obviously having treatments at different times.
“It’s good for the recovery process. It’s been a really good way to help get back to normality.
“I didn’t want to be part of the band when I was going through my treatment because I didn’t want anything to do with anyone.
“I’ve always been a singer and I’ve had a guitar since I was young. I had played basic guitar for a couple of years but when you’re led in a bed during your treatment with nothing to do all day it was a really good way to pass the time.
“When I finished the treatment I went to the music therapist and became involved.”
The band, which takes its name from the Young Oncology Unit at Christie’s and a combination of the date on which the original members were diagnosed, is presently made up of vocalist Rick Tweedie, bassist Gemma Long, drummer Abe Vincent and guitarist Peter Garner.
They have recently written and released a charity single entitled “Blue Sky Day” which they will be performing on Sunday along with a number of other hits.
“All the money we raise from the single will be going towards Christie’s,” said Emily. “We’re all an inspiration to each other. I would recommend music to anybody who has been through or is going through what we have.
“If I was going through my treatment again I would definitely have chosen to get involved straight away. It’s a great way of helping you deal with things.”
Y.O.U. 62 will be performing on Sunday alongside the likes of Megan J. Ingham, Olivia Archbold, Radio 2’s Paul Jones and Dave Kelly and opera star Sean Ruane.
For more information, tickets and fringe updates and hotel info visit the Burnley Rock and Blues Festival website www.burnleyrockandblues.com or call the Mechanics box office on 01282 664400.