Random acts of kindness
A simple act of paying it forward has resulted in a hit song for Nelson singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jacquie Walters.
Walters will release new single 18 Roses on iTunes next Thursday, ahead of her gig at The Playhouse on April 4.
Almost a year ago, Walters happened across a story on a Facebook page called Paying it Forward, which shares positive stories about random acts of kindness. The story that caught her eye was of a United States single mother of two, Jody Marie Lappier, with children a similar age to hers.
Lappier's then-five-year-old had asked for a present of 18 roses so she could give them away and brighten the days of others on her birthday. Lappier wrote about the wonderful reaction her daughter got - lots of hugs, tears and happy smiles.
The story received more than a million likes, and Walters was moved to write 18 Roses.
She says that every time she's played it, people have had "a strong, positive reaction" to it.
"It makes lots of people cry happy tears," she says.
Once she had written the song and recorded a rough audio version she contacted Lappier via Facebook.
"She's such a nice lady, it's been lovely developing this Facebook friendship with her.
"She was delighted to hear the song and played it to her daughter who went to bed humming it."
Lappier and Walters kept in touch, and when she recorded the track for her new album, also called 18 Roses, earlier this year, she made a music video and shared it with Lappier and her family.
The Lappiers have since invited the Walters family to go and have a holiday in Woodenville, Washington State, and Lappier and her daughter Grace plan to repeat their gift of roses on Grace's seventh birthday next month.
Walters says she wants to share the story of how simple acts of kindness can resonate around the world; her family now sponsors a child in Burundi, through World Vision, inspired by Grace's annual act of kindness.
"It's been very good learning for the kids about how some people don't have all the benefits they have," she says.
Her album is all original, with most songs written since she moved to Nelson from Christchurch two years ago. Her marriage had ended, which was a catalyst for change.
"I thought right, where do I want to live and bring up my lovely kids and start a business? It's been fantastic. I am grateful every day, living here."
18 Roses contains songs written for her children, such as how to deal with bullying at school; some about relationships, one about "earthquake stuff", and, of course, love. She describes it as "singer-songwritery and acoustic". She recorded it at Braeburn Recording Studio in Wellington, with Wellington musicians Mark Laurent and Paddy Burgin adding their talents.
Walters also runs a PR company, and her two previous solo albums have been critically acclaimed. She has toured extensively throughout Britain and New Zealand, performing at folk concerts and festivals. With two young children, there were a few years recently where she hadn't made much music at all. But a trip to the Tui Farm Folk Festival near Tapawera in January 2012 changed that.
"It got me into the zone again, writing songs and performing," she says. "Someone asked me if I shuffled off from the planet what would be the one thing I would regret not doing? I said music.
"We get so tied into the occupations we have, but really it's the soul food we do that's important."