The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic over recent weeks, particularly the last month, has stirred up powerful memories for award-winning, Bristol based singer-songwriter Elles Bailey. It took her back twenty-nine years to when she spent her third birthday in an intensive care hospital ward, being kept alive on a ventilator, supported by the NHS and their team of incredible nurses and doctors.
At just two years of age, Elles had contracted a mystery viral infection that affected the young and caused their throats to close, preventing them from breathing. Many infants were taken by the infection. Luckily, Elles’ parents got her to hospital with just minutes to spare. To save her, she had a tube put down her throat, connected to a ventilator. As well as the viral infection, Elles also contracted viral and bacterial pneumonia.
The young Elles spent seventeen days in a coma on a ventilator, which was the last unit available in the hospital when she arrived. During the time she was ventilated, there were not enough meters to monitor her blood oxygen level so the surgeons were concerned that she could be brain-damaged. Fortunately, there proved to be no lasting damage, but due to the trauma of the tube, the young girl’s voice was changed permanently. What became Elle’s trademark husky voice was the product of this event in her life.
When Elles fell ill, back in the early Nineties, there was no internet, no social media, few mobile phones and no dedicated, round-the-clock news channels on terrestrial TV, so her parents did not really know what was happening: a far cry from today, where we are exposed to so much information and opinion about the current pandemic, though at this point, there’s still much uncertainty as events unfold.
Her heart now goes out to all those people who are now suffering due to COVID-19, especially to those in intensive therapy units who are being kept alive by ventilators, and also to the families and loved ones of those people who have lost the battle – patients and frontline health workers, in particular.
Back in 1991, Elles’ parents used the power of music to raise money to buy more oximeters for the hospital. Today, Elles Bailey wants to echo that. Elles has become a best-selling, award-winning singer and songwriter, touring the UK, Europe and USA.
She has worked with noted songwriters and musicians including Dan Auerbach (Black Keys), Ivor Novello winner Roger Cook, and Memphis and Nashville Legend Bobby Wood. Bobby has played and recorded with the recently-departed John Prine, also Elvis, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash and many, many others.
Bobby also had a life-changing accident and spent a long time in hospital when he was younger. He had been touring with his band in America when they had a horrendous car crash. He lost a lot of blood, suffered a cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital. He was rolled into a corridor and covered with a sheet. By chance, as a doctor was passing, one of Bobby’s arms fell out of the sheet. The doctor noticed Bobby’s finger twitch and felt his pulse. He found Bobby was miraculously alive, but only just, so he was connected to life support and thankfully survived.
Back in September 2017 Elles & Bobby got together for a songwriting session. At the time Hurricane Irma had just devastated Florida, fires were raging across the Western states of the US and the refugee crisis in Syria was at a peak. The world seemed in chaos. But they also discussed how random acts of kindness, how spreading love, not hate, helps the world to heal and the song ‘Help Somebody’ was written.
“Although it was Inspired by a different crisis,” Elles explains, “this song feels almost even more relevant today. During this pandemic, I have seen such an outpouring of love, of kindness, and of community spirit. Helping your neighbour helps make the world a better place and I truly hope this song inspires people during this terrible time.
“Both Bobby and I are so deeply grateful and in debt to those dedicated teams of medics and carers who helped save our lives. I, for one, wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our amazing NHS.
“During this difficult time, so many of us in the UK want to do our bit and to help support our incredible, brave, selfless NHS face the pandemic.
“For this single release I’m partnering with the charity HEROES. Their Help Them Help Us campaign is supporting frontline NHS workers in a variety of ways, from 3D printing much-needed PPE to delivering food to them at work on their long, arduous, dangerous shifts; also, providing a variety of gifts to help thank and reward them and keep up morale.
Check out the charity’s work at https://www.helpthemhelpus.co.uk/ and make a donation and, as the charity’s campaign says: let’s help them help us!
Check out Lyric Video for Help Somebody here https://youtu.be/Mmf-pFWrc3A and please do share it with your friends family and social circles so we can raise as much awareness as possible.”
Pre Save ‘Help Sombody’ which includes two versions of the song where all proceeds go to HEROES.
HEROES Co-founder LEIO says: At HEROES we have one mission at our core, to help them help us, and at this point the NHS need our help more than ever before. We continue to be humbled and inspired by the generosity of others to support the Heroes cause. It’s a hard, unprecedented time but it’s with support like Elles that means we can go that much further to help NHS staff in their fight against COVID-19”