With the help of a backing crew of professional musicians and music producers who were all out of work because of Covid-19, Kara Jane Spencer is launching her first-ever nine-track album, ‘It’s Still M.E.’ under the name Kara Jane, and it can be bought from this Saturday, August 8.
As well as coinciding with the annual Severe M.E. Week, Kara hopes to raise £100,000 for a tissue bank appeal led by UK-wide charity, the ME Association.
The 29-year-old who lives in Mansfield, was diagnosed with M.E., also known as chronic fatigue syndrome 13 years ago after suddenly losing her ability to walk.
Kara said: “Until then, I was healthy and active – ‘loud, crazy and always laughing’ in the words of my sister.
“My condition steadily deteriorated, until seven years ago I became completely bedridden.”
Kara needs round-the-clock nursing care at home and survives on supplemental oxygen.
Despite living with an extreme form of the illness, she’s been writing songs for as long as she can remember, and a few years ago began recording vocals from her bed.
But the build-up to this charity album is like nothing else she has ever experienced.
Offers to help make the album poured in from the music industry after she put out an appeal on the BBC News website.
The appeal reached the ears of 27-year-old Cornwall-based record producer Liam Hicks.
Liam said: “Actually, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
"There were so many live session musicians and sound engineers out of work due to coronavirus, me included, so we had lots of offers.
"We ended up with about 27 different musicians taking part.”
Co-producer Jim Molyneux tweeted: “Throughout lockdown, I took on the challenge of taking some of these a-capellas and making them into songs.
"I’d then send them to Liam who would make them sound 1000x better and he’d send them on to string and bass players, drummers, guitarists, etc, who added their parts.”
Kara lives with an extreme form of M.E. which has a wide range of symptoms which fluctuate from hour to hour.
Nowadays, she is unable to sing a whole song all at once.
Kara’s friend, Naomi Whittingham, said: “Kara is unable to sing more than a line or two at once and, with hospital admissions adding further delays, this was a process that has taken nearly two years.
“Her dream was to produce an album of her own songs while it is still possible.
“Kara is a gifted singer and songwriter and the themes of loss, pain and fragile hope in her songs will resonate with many, particularly in these difficult times.”
There are an estimated 265,000 children and adults who have M.E. in the UK – one in four of whom are so ill they have difficulty getting out of the house or are bedbound.
Kara says this album is dedicated to everyone with Severe M.E.: “As people with M.E., we hear so many lies about our condition that love, loss and anger come across as the three central elements of my music.
"There’s a lot of anger among patients out there which I try to capture.
“All we’re asking is for a little bit of justice and consolation for ourselves and a level playing-field with other similar conditions.
“If I can pull this off, this would be my life’s accomplishment.
Above all else, I would dearly love to leave a functioning post-mortem tissue bank as my legacy.”
Tony Britton, fundraising and PR manager with the ME Association, said: “We’d like to thank everybody who put their hearts and souls into getting this album and the single
out for no payment whatsoever – it was a real labour of love.
"Especially, huge thanks to Kara who is helping drive our funding of biomedical research into this horrific and much under-rated disease to the next level.
“If anybody with M.E, wants to find out more about how they can donate tissue from their body to medical research, please get in touch through our website.”
For more information about Kara’s music and where to find it, visit www.karajanesings.com.
To make a donation to the £100,000 appeal separately from buying the album, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kara-jane-sings.