Nashville Singer-Songwriter Melinda Edlin On Rebuilding Community - One Year After The Tornado

Mar 3, 2021

Tornado damage from the March 3, 2020 storms.
Credit Melinda Edlin

  Two years ago, The Local Brew Hour and The Daily Local Brew on WMOT were still concepts, one month later in April of 2019 both features came to life on WMOT and Melinda Edlin was one of the first artists featured with her sparse and stirring, “Someday, But Not Today.”  The song took on new meaning after Melinda’s home and much of her Donelson neighborhood was destroyed on March 3, 2020 in the tornado that devasted so many in Middle Tennessee. The tornado took their home but not their spirit… Melinda has been putting a lot of her energy into helping her community heal while also channeling some of what she’s been processing into her music with a recent single release. She also just finished a video for her song, “Never Forget That Night”.

AnaLee: I can’t begin to imagine how you’re feeling, Melinda, one year after such a devastating loss only to be followed by the pandemic. I know the tornado left your Donelson neighborhood with widespread damage. What’s kept you going this past year?

Melinda: I think it’s gratefulness that has kept me going. Sitting in that hallway a year ago, I was watching the shards of glass flying underneath the doors and feeling the entire house collapse around us like a deck of cards. I had no idea how that night was going to end. I didn’t know if I would survive or perhaps worse, if I would lose my husband or one of my kids. After that, it was easy to see how quickly life can be taken away from you. I realized how important it is to be present in your everyday life and to show up for what you are passionate about. For me, music has been a huge help in processing all that’s happened this year and I find so much comfort in writing songs. And there’s a deeper sense of purpose when I get to share them with others who might be feeling the same way. 

AnaLee: You’ve somehow found the strength and inspiration to not just keep going, but to help others. Tell us a little about rebuilding your home and your community. Also, how you hope to create awareness through your partnership with Delgato Guitars.

Melinda: After sharing my song, I realized how many people were finding comfort in it.  We asked my husband’s work (Ramsey Solutions) if they would bring out a drone and film some raw video footage of our house and neighborhood after the tornado. My husband edited that footage with my song playing in the background.  We are sharing it today, on the anniversary of the tornado (March 3) in hopes that we can mark that year together and remember all we’ve been through, but also remembering how far we’ve come. Perhaps many of us are still teetering between intoxicating gratefulness that we are still here and overwhelming sadness at all we’ve lost and experienced. I wanted to share something that could unify us as we go through all those feelings again at one year after. But I also wanted to share it in a more live setting.

So, on February 26, Delgado Guitars put on an “in the round” livestream concert that I hosted. I began the concert by talking a little bit about my experience with the tornado and then playing my song, “Never Forget that Night” in hopes of bringing unity and comfort to our community. You can watch that performance at

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 AnaLee: I am imagining that “Never Forget That Night” came to you pretty quickly after that night. Tell us about the reaction it had in your neighborhood.

Melinda: Yes, as we were still sifting through the damage of our home and belongings, working with insurance, trying to replace our totaled cars and securing a new place to live, my husband suggested I go over to his cousin’s house to write.  He knows me well enough to know I needed a way to be with my emotions and create something with it – that’s part of my own healing process.  I was at the piano and started writing this song when the tears started to come.  And I knew this was not going to just be a song for me. 

A couple weeks after the tornado hit, I shared a video of the song and shared it on my socials and also on the Facebook “Hip Donelson” page. The response was overwhelming. I think the community was so connected to the song because they experienced the same trauma that we did. Some mentioned that they were also trying to take cover while their houses crumbled around them, many shared about the anxiety they were experiencing and mostly, we all sort of connected there over the shared grief a tornado can bring. Everyone was seen, heard and understood there and it was a beautiful thing to see my community listening to this song I wrote, then seeing the song act as a conduit to bring people together in the healing. I am so honored to have been a part of that tender process.

 
AnaLee: The track you just released, “Moon in The Morning” is a song you were working on when the tornado hit. Has it changed at all or did you keep the recording true to your original idea for the song?
 

Melinda: I had just finished laying down the piano and vocal tracks with my producer, Matt Odmark, when the tornado hit. During that season of quarantine, I worked digitally back and forth with him and Hannah Holbrook to arrange the strings section and then we recorded the strings later on while wearing masks, of course. We were able to take a little extra time on it, since the pandemic put a halt on everything. I love the way it turned out and I love that we had some additional time to work on the details.

AnaLee: Thank you, Melinda. Let us know how people can help. I’ve also included a link to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee here, just click tornado response.

Melinda: Thank you, AnaLee.  It is always a pleasure getting to connect with you. One easy way to support is to share the video of “Never Forget That Night” so people know they are not alone when tragedy strikes.
 

Melinda Edlin, “Never Forget That Night”

Melinda Edlin, “Someday, But Not Today”

        

Melinda Edlin, “Moon in The Morning”