A north-east singer-songwriter has been helping mental health sufferers across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic through social media and has now launched her first single.
Amanda-Jane Taylor, who performs using the stage name AJ McLovely, has worked tirelessly over the past 10 months to stream live music, themed nights and chat shows online in a bid to lift spirits throughout the difficult period.
She said: “I have been streaming live videos and gigs since March last year.
“I usually post videos every couple of days of me singing a particular song, too – either a cover version or an original track – and do between one-to-four gigs per week.
“These involve singing but a lot of interaction and chats take place with the audience.
“Apart from the trolling – something that everyone who streams and posts online receives – the feedback on them has been amazing.
“The videos and mainly the live streams have been very uplifting for several people – and a lot of viewers look forward to the next one.
“They enjoy the upbeat vibe, interaction, music and the openness of me. I talk about and address mental health and try to remove the stigma attached to it.
“People say they love to see me smile and that it helps them. I have received and continue to receive messages regularly, telling me that I have helped them on their dark days.”
💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞💞Hello, hello to all Mclovelies old and new.Welcome to all my newcomers and THANK YOU ALL for your support, kindness and above all respect.Here is a wee friday treat for you, a video of a song i have covered before but i wanted to do a better version and use my new SM58 mic. I hope you enjoy my accoustic cover of DANCE MONKEY🐒.Lots of love, Aj💞.P.S. don’t forget i will be live TOMORROW night at 7pm on my own page AND the wonderful LANCASTER LIVE-a hugely supportive group for all performers😁🎶💞.
Posted by AJ Mclovely on Friday, January 22, 2021
AJ, a former UK and international beauty queen and ambassador for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, began streaming her music videos on Facebook which are now watched by thousands of people worldwide.
Always aiming to spread the word about mental health awareness, she has also been asked to appear on countless charity lives including Pride Glasgow 2021, Archie Foundation, Dundee Bairns and The Kilted Chef’s Live @5.
The mum-of-two has been furloughed from her job as a dental hygienist in Westhill.
“To a degree, I’ve suffered from mental health issues from primary school age due to bullying,” she added.
“However, it has been at its worst over the last three years when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away, and my marriage ended (amongst other things).
“I believe that by me talking openly about mental health and how it can happen to anyone, it has encouraged others who are struggling – or know someone close to them who is struggling – to open up about it too or message me about it directly.
“It has made people feel less alone and made them realise there are many others who feel this way.
“I have been told I have kept several people going through their own battles, grief, suicidal feelings, lack of self-esteem, isolation, and so on.”
It was written during a period when she was struggling to deal with several life-changing issues in her personal life, including the loss of her dad.
The song features backing from guitarist Kevin Buchan, with some of the proceeds going to the local charities Branching Out and SAMH who have helped her through very tough times.
Both mental health-related charities have helped AJ with her own struggles.
AJ said: “I have always wanted to be a singer but lacked confidence due to the bullying etc. I have written my own songs for years as a form of escapism.
“I have worked on songs with producers in the past and performed live – including at the Emmerdale extravaganza and charity events – but I gave that and the beauty queen days/modeling career up when I became a wife and a mother.
“When I became separated, the boys got a bit older and my mental health hit rock bottom. I got back into it after one of my mentors from Branching Out heard me sing.
“I decided to write Hold On because I wanted to turn something negative into a positive message that could very well help others.
“Music is very healing for a lot of people but not only that, music makes a lot of people feel good, and therefore sending out a positive message of hope in a song can really resonate with others.
“I have been inundated with offers to collaborate with various other musicians and have two other songs in the pipeline at the moment.
“I also hope to put together a lockdown covers album of my most regularly sung covers and a country album as this is a genre I particularly enjoy and receive incredible feedback from.
“I now have a worldwide following that has become an ever-growing community. Knowing that I am helping so many people is an incredible feeling.
“Having reached the lows I have and dealing with mental illness every day of my life, I never want any other person to lose all hope.
“Mental health is an illness, not a choice. I feel that now more than ever, the world needs to be more aware of the help out there, support others struggling and remove the stigma as much as we can.”