“Life is about having fun, whilst making an impact”
Ben Buddy Slack is from Leeds and the founder and creative director of a charity called The Swan Song Project. He helps people living with terminal illnesses or dealing with bereavement to write and record an original song. After starting four years ago after his grandma passed away and regretting not having recorded a song with her.
Ben Started playing music at 13 years old, his uncle used to play with the family and everyone would always gather together and it was something he never saw as a career. He started playing in pubs with his uncle at the age of 14 and there and then music was part of Ben’s foundation.
After wanting to be part of the police force, Ben started a degree studying criminology at university, but after the first year he had created a band and took a gap year to perform and chase his dream and he never returned back to study.
Being in a band did not always provide a steady income and Ben had to work in many different jobs to earn money, before he fell into a radio station who was running a workshop for musicians to help in the community and one of their projects was with young offenders and Ben was invited to help out and it opened his eyes to a way of life that was so rewarding.
Some of the people present were seriously vulnerable and had huge breakthroughs. Ben did so many community building projects and began to specialise in how songwriting could be his niche to inspire.
Then Ben’s Grandma died, when she was near the end, she was in a care home, and it is then when the family began to sing one of her favourite songs by her bedside ‘the black velvet band’. She was none responsive, but as the family were singing, she started tapping her finger along with the song. After she had passed away Ben realised that he may have missed something by not having his grandmother recorded singing her own song as a legacy piece.
Then Ben realised that he could help people share their own songs towards the end of their life as a legacy project given to their family. Before you know it, Ben started at Marie Curie hospice in Bradford in May 2017 and went and spoke to the residence, to ask them whether they would like to share a song towards the end of their life for their family and friends. This quickly became The Swan Song Project Charity that has now been running since 2018.
The Swan Song Project is like two human universals. Everyone knows what it is like to lose someone or fear losing someone and also everyone has some connection to music, which makes it relatable and of course even more powerful.
“The impact someone has on your life, doesn’t have to stop when they die”