Music

Ellen Starski's New Single is a Touching Tribute to Her Grandmothers (premiere)

Photo: Amelia Booth

Having lost both of her grandmothers to Alzheimer's, Ellen Starski's "Ode to Nanny and Cookie" is a heartstring-tugging tribute to two inspiring women.

"Losing both of my beautiful, inspirational grandmothers to Alzheimer's brought me to write this song," says Ellen Starski. "Ode to Nanny and Cookie" is a clear highlight from off of the folk artist's upcoming independent release, The Days When Peonies Prayed For Ants. Releasing on 11 May, the album acts as a soundtrack of sorts for Starski's life leading up to its moment of completion, scrap-booking essential moments of her life into song. From her travels in coal-led rural Pennsylvania to the roots music capital of Nashville, the troubadour details the good, the bad, and the in-between in picturesque detail

Starski's "Ode to Nanny and Cookie" is one such contribution to the scrapbook. The slow-paced song slides in at nearly six minutes in length but never feels languid. Rather, there's a heartfelt sense of urgency to proceedings as she paints us a picture dedicated to two grandmothers who she loves and misses dearly.

As Starski tells us, "'Ode to Nanny and Cookie' takes place inside a snow globe. It's about how the disease controls loss and remembrance. Imagine living inside a snow globe: there you are, calm within your little home, when all of a sudden everything you knew is turned upside down. Your mind knows things are familiar, but you can't put the pieces back together. This song is for my amazing grandmothers, and for all the people affected by this disease. It's also for all those who selflessly provide care to the people in need."

"This song's beginning was prompted via a drive through West Virginia. The first verse came to me in an 'a-ha' moment that pulled me to the side of the road in a writer's fury," she continues. "It wasn't till years later that I would come to understand the words' destination. This song was certainly the most difficult song to approach in the studio, in fact, I was full of self-doubt. Reopening this wound wasn't something I took lightly. My vocal booth was filled with relics from my grandmothers' lives. I feel they were there spiritually, but also needed physical reminders to help me through the process."

"Both of my grandmothers were the true image of grace. They both nurtured my growth as a human being and encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. My Nanny and my Grandad met at a dance before he was shipped off to battle during WWII. She told me she used him as her yard stick the entire time he was at war, and nobody measured up."

"My Cookie fell in love deeply and lost her love while my my mother was carrying me. She never met another that would compare, and lived out the rest of her days awaiting the moment she would reunite with my grandpa. Throughout everyday living, my grandmothers taught me the definition of love and commitment. My wish is that my grandmothers have felt the vibrations from this song somewhere, somehow, and that they love it as much as I love them."

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