by Kevin Burton
Alison Trelfa can’t recall a time without music.
You could say music filled the world surrounding her as a girl, to paraphrase one of her favorite songs.
On weekends home from the Royal Victoria School for the Blind, Trelfa would usually spend the Saturday at rehearsals for her mother’s country music band, the Tennessee Flat Tops.
At school, the music didn’t stop when the music classes did. “We sang wherever we were,’ she recalls.
So when she came of age, there was no question as to the direction of her life. It was always going to be about the music.
“It just floated my boat as they say. I never had much interest to do anything else,” Trelfa said.
Music filled the world surrounding her, and it filled her too. Does to this day, and it shows.
I first encountered Trelfa on a Facebook page for blind musicians. She is a singer-songwriter from Middlesbrough, England. In June she released “Decades Of Creation,” which is what the title implies, a set of songs she has written over many years.
Most days she does a post on her Alison Trelfa Music page on Facebook, playing keyboard or ukulele, singing alone or with friends and family.
If you catch these posts, as I encourage you to do, you will notice how fluent she is on the instruments. But for me anyway I first noticed her obvious joy of being in the music. She is carrying a tune, but the tune is carrying her as well.
Ok, so maybe her British accent was the very first thing I noticed.
I also began to notice she was choosing a lot of songs that were right in my 60s and 70s wheelhouse, including many songs by The Carpenters.
On a zoom call last week she confirmed what I suspected.
“The Carpenters, without the shadow of a doubt, have been one of the biggest influences on my journey,” she said. “My mum had a couple of their albums and we used to play them in the car.”
Trelfa mentions Neil Sedaka and ABBA, among others, as influences, the artists her mother introduced her to.
“I feel like I’ve come a little late to the party really,” Trelfa said, “I really ought to have been born in the 50s. I wish I had been around when the music I love actually was happening.”
Trelfa wasn’t there but she was transported there by her mother and by those recordings.
“I guess your music, what’s in your body, what in your soul, the way you come up somehow or another will come out through your fingers or through your vocal chords or whatever,” said the late great Ray Charles, quoted for a Time-Life documentary.
This is what you hear in Trelfa’s self-released album, and it’s the Carpenters vibe coming through the most.
The story of the Carpenters is of brilliance and pain in equal measure. There is pain on Decades, though the stories behind it haven’t been spread worldwide.
The song “Incredible,” comes from a major trauma, “the biggest row I’ve ever had,” Trelfa says. She said she lost not one but probably 20 friends all at once. “Dancing On The Outside” grew from that same musical soil and speaks for millions of people suffering behind a smile.
The breakup song “Eye to Eye,” speaks of pain, but it is not Trelfa’s story but that of her mother.
“Let’s Rock the Lockdown” was released separately and is included on Decades of Creation as a bonus track. That song features her One Voice Choir Middlesbrough and the Warbling Baubles on backup vocals. It is a much-needed and well received ray of sunshine and encouragement during the Covid crisis.
Trelfa has trouble picking her favorite song from Decades. Unfair question by me really. It’s a bit like picking your favorite child.
She does have a favorite Carpenters tune, the positive, upbeat “Only Yesterday,” The song I paraphrased earlier.
“The production on that is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “It’s got that whirly piano that kind of goes from speaker to speaker and sends you a bit crosseyed.”
You can and you should find Trelfa’s music on You Tube, Spotify, ITunes, Amazon, Apple Music, and other major platforms.
Check out the music there, then come back to Page 7 tomorrow when we hear more of Trelfa’s story including her advice to aspiring musicians.