The death of British singer-songwriter and composer Mary Lou Retton has prompted some to turn to the musical arts to get their music out of the grave.
Retton, who died aged 74 on Tuesday, has recorded scores of classic songs, including ‘The Little Prince’ and ‘The Magic of Spring’.
She also wrote some of the most memorable pieces of contemporary music, including her 1977 hit ‘I Have a Dream’ which became a hit in the UK, where it became a top 20 hit.
But the composer also wrote the ‘I Love You, Mary Lou’ that became a favourite of British pop star Madonna and many of her songs have been reissued by the BBC and sold millions of copies.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Retton, a musician and writer, told Al Jazeera she believed her songs were better heard at their highest notes and that the music was “a reflection of her spirit”.
“I don’t think the words have any effect on the listener,” she said.
“It’s a song about a love affair between two lovers and that is the essence of love.”
I think the best words I can use to describe my songs are the ones that describe love and that’s what I would say.
“Retton was a pioneer of the genre of jazz, and her compositions often had a strong feminist message.
She told Al-Jazeera she had been encouraged by her husband to write a song for her first marriage, a relationship that ended in divorce.
The music of Mary Lou is very strong, but she also wrote this beautiful song about my father, she said”My father was a jazz musician and she had written this beautiful piece of music called ‘I Want You’.”
The song was written in her father’s voice.”
She wrote a verse for the piece and then she wrote a chorus.
That’s why I like to write poetry.
I’m very happy with the lyrics.
“Retston has also written songs about her mother, and in some cases, about her own mother.
Her father, Fredrick James, died aged 71 and his son, Charles, is her husband.”
I love my father.””
I don, too.
I love my father.”
Retson told Aljazeera she wanted to record music that reflected her own “spirit”.
“There’s something in my music that is a reflection of my own spirituality, my spirituality,” she added.
“If you don’t believe in yourself, that’s not what you’re doing.
You’re not doing it because you have an inner voice, or you have a spiritual, inner feeling.”
When you sing a song you have to sing a poem.
“Retts mother was a devout Catholic and her father was “always a good Catholic”.
She said she would never be a Catholic and she was proud to be “the only one in the family” who was not.”
You can’t be a good person if you’re not a good singer,” she explained.”
The way I think about myself is I am a person who is proud of my mother, proud of all my ancestors and proud of who I am.
“Her songs were written in the 1950s and 60s when jazz was “the music of the poor and the people who lived in the streets” and there was a need for music to be played for people who couldn’t afford it.”
There was no one to sing to the masses, and I don’t feel like that any more,” she recalled.”
So it’s really about me singing to the people, who are living in poverty and the other people that I know.
“And it’s all the songs that I can sing.”
“I would not have the songs if my father hadn’t died.”
In her book ‘Loving Mary Lou’, Retton described her father as “one of the best jazz musicians I’ve ever known” and said she had “the most wonderful memory of him”.
She told the BBC she had often been asked about her father.
“He was a great friend, a wonderful, generous man, and a great musical person, too,” she remembered.
“We had a great, great love affair, and we would have an hour together in the morning.”
“And I would go out with him and he would sing a few tunes to me, so I would be really happy.”