Musical Tribute to Florence Nightingale
by, 03-09-2009 at 06:56 PM (5243 Views)
On March 6th Country Joe McDonald presented the world premiere of his musical tribute to Florence Nightingale at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists in Berkeley, California.
A veteran of the US Navy, Country Joe first became interested in Florence Nightingale in 1981 after attending a seminar on the problems of Vietnam veterans. One of the speakers was a Vietnam War nurse named Lynda Van Devanter. Joe says on his website that “she was the first Vietnam War nurse to "come out" and speak for women in the military.”
After the event for veterans, Joe was inspired to read about Nightingale including an autographed copy of Sir Edward Cook's biography of Florence Nightingale. Since then he has visited her home at Embley, her gravesite at East Wellow, her summer home Lea Hurst, the Selimiye Barrack Hospital in Turkey, and Kaiserswerth in Germany where Nightingale attended nursing school. Joe created a website devoted to her life and work: www.countryjoe.com/nightingale.
The 50 minute presentation included several original songs powerfully performed by this well known sixties-era musician (“Country Joe and the Fish”).
The songs “The Lady With the Lamp” and “Thank the Nurse” were especially moving and beautiful. They strengthened and added emotion to the presentation and the repeating choruses allowed me to learn the songs as he played them making them even more enjoyable. His musicianship lived up to the fame he acquired in the past and added further respect to Nightingale’s contribution.
Interspersed with the songs were tales of Nightingale's overwhelming contribution to nursing and public health. Especially riveting was the story of how, during the Crimean War, she walked each evening with her famous lamp the four miles of beds spaced 18 inches apart, the soldiers kissing her shadow as she passed.
Several nurses were in the audience including Country Joe’s wife, Kathy McDonald, RN, a labor & delivery nurse at Kaiser Oakland. Other nurses who experienced the performance emailed these comments:
Karen Hipkins, RN, NP, MPH wrote,” How fortunate we are that Country Joe is using his well known storytelling and musical talents to advocate for nurses! Knowing more about Florence Nightingale's life and legacy engenders a sense of pride and connection between past and present.”
And Cathy Berman, RN, NP, MFT intern wrote, “After attending the Country Joe performance dedicated to "The Lady of the Lamp" I was touched by the enormous personal sacrifice and tenacity Florence Nightingale possessed. Country Joe expanded the historical picture of this brave and courageous woman to include the person inside the story.”
I hope that many of you will get to experience this intensely moving tribute. I think it would be especially appropriate for Nurses Week coming up May 6-12.
To reach Country Joe and to learn more about his Tribute to Florence Nightingale visit www.countryjoe.com/nightingale.