Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow (CD)


Ann Sweeten’s newest offering, Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, is a tour de force of emotion, technical prowess and prodigious compositionStandout guest musicians include:   Nancy Rumbel (English Horn), Eugene Friesen (Cello), Charlie Bisharat (Violin), Premik Russell Tubbs (Soprano Saxophone), Trisha Craig (Flute).   During the album’s conception Ann was diagnosed with Leukemia. Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow refers to the time before diagnosis, and then to the horizon, beyond the immediate, with hope for the future.



The notes that follow are from something I wrote on May third of 2017, just a few weeks after my diagnosis of Leukemia. I was sitting quietly in the late afternoon sun, a cool Spring Breeze ruffling the budding trees, tears dripping down my face (wishing for oblivion). The words written at that time, will now introduce my newest album Before Today, Beyond Tomorrow, referring to the time before my diagnosis, and then, looking ahead and beyond the immediate with hope for the future.

“For those of you who have followed my career and read my CDs’ liner notes, you will already know that I have had Breast Cancer twice before and a plethora of related surgeries for Reconstruction. To receive a third cancer diagnosis is almost beyond what I can bear or even comprehend the likelihood.

This album began with a few compositions: Vanish, which refers to the vanishing ice in the Arctic and the accompanying vanishing species due to climate change, and Through Winter Panes, brought to life in my usual way; then I lost my beloved Blackie Boo and another was created. The pieces that followed were largely extensions or reactions to the emotional roller coaster of the weeks of blood tests, the simply not knowing for weeks on end, hearing the word “oncology” again and then hearing the word “Leukemia” – finally wondering how many years I had left. Through research, better comprehension and a second opinion, I found I do have a good prognosis as long as I tolerate the drugs that are used to treat it. There is no cure for this and no Doctor knows why it happens to some and not to others. Diet or Family history do not play a role, just some damn bit of rotten luck, though I have my suspicions.

Beyond the CloudsLike Smoke thru a KeyholeThe Empty Swing, and Philadelphia 22(the chromosome responsible for my Leukemia) are markers on my journey of fear, hopelessness, anger, acceptance and then the resolution to fight for survival. Another piece was written for my dear little Shiloh who passed the day after Christmas 2017, which brought me to another level of despair. The two that followed, the title track and Across the Midnight Sky are more a testament to hope and resiliency.

To those who read this, please do not feel sorry for me, but rather cheer me on, for if the “why” in ‘why have I gotten cancer 3 times?’ cannot be answered, then the fact that I still survive, may be answer enough. I submit that despite odds against me in a world we no longer understand, there are forces at work to keep me here, to keep giving my music to the world.

I have never needed a wake-up call in life thru diagnosis or event, as I have always felt so very present and awake, but this third diagnosis has dropped me to my knees and in a way I can’t explain, the world is different, my life is different, my reactions are different, my patience is greater, my capacity for forgiveness as well. Life itself seems so fragile that I hold it like a wounded bird, so that it may grow well within my care and fly free again, carrying music on its wing.

In light of all this, I urge you to take the time to hear the birdsong in quiet April walks in the woods, to feel the sun in a sparkling sapphire sky with a salty brine in the air while sea ebbs and flows and you walk ALIVE, not alone, with a dog running free at your feet; to taste the truth of life in an intimate embrace, to delight, in the crunch of leaves beneath your shoes in Autumn’s lusty haze, in the swirling magic of December snow, and in the majesty of Earth reborn in Spring, to be grateful for all that graces your day in the smallest of creatures and in the smallest of gestures, for the stars in the midnight fields, and for Love wherever it may appear. I carry on!”

Ann Sweeten