Purple Songs Can Fly helps young patients express themselves through music

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Purple Songs Can Fly helps children make their own music
Purple Songs Can Fly is an incredible music program at Texas Children's Hospital that's helping young patients tell their stories through song! 🎵Purple Songs Can Fly is an incredible music program at Texas Children's Hospital that's helping young patients tell their stories through song!

HOUSTON, Texas -- A unique music program at Texas Children's Hospital is helping children with cancer and blood disorders tell their stories through music.

Purple Songs Can Fly is the first recording studio ever created on a pediatric cancer floor.

The studio gives young patients the opportunity to write their own original songs and record them. Founder Anita Kruse first started Purple Songs Can Fly in 2006 after performing at Texas Children's Hospital as a visiting musician.

"When I thought of that line, Purple Songs Can Fly, I was thinking of the idea of sort of rising above illness," said Kruse.

Since then, Purple Songs Can Fly has produced more than 3,000 songs. Cancer survivor Layla Borghese remembers how excited she was the first time she entered the recording studio.

"I was six years old. I was in the first grade and I was here for one of my yearly check-ups," she said. "I was waiting for the doctor to come in and my mom and my dad were sitting next to me. This guy comes in, and he's like, hey, do you like music? And I'm like, heck yeah, I love music. And he was like, do you want to write a song? And I was like, where have you been my whole life? Yes, I want to write a song! It wasn't very good, but from that point on, I fell in love with songwriting. I fell in love with Purple Songs Can Fly."

Recording music helps young patients to express their thoughts and feelings.

"It's so important for kids to have a creative outlet when they are suffering from diagnoses of cancer," said Dr. David Steffin, pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "This allows them to interact with others, to play, to be creative. And because they're not able to hang out with their friends on a normal basis or go to school like they normally would, this just gives them a completely new opportunity and it is incredibly essential for them."

"Sometimes when I get my bloodwork done, I will come here and I will write a song about it and I will just forget all about my pain," said 12-year-old patient Leayrah Cooks.

The songs created in the studio actually do fly, too. They have been copied onto purple CDs or fly drives and flown into space by astronauts, they have been heard on the in-flight playlists of United Airlines, toured the world with Rolling Stones, and visited the undersea site of the Titanic.

In 2019, Purple Songs can fly released a documentary called Journey to Hope, which features the stories of six pediatric cancer survivors. The documentary won over 50 awards and selections at film festivals across the world.

"It's different than just listening to music," said Kruse. "Creating your own music actually moves something in you that's unique to you. I feel that music is one of the most powerful ways that human beings have of expressing our humanity."

For more information on the program, visit purplesongscanfly.org.