A north-east singer-songwriter has raised hundreds of pounds for a mental health charity after hosting an online fundraising gig.
Amanda-Jane Taylor, who performs using the stage name AJ McLovely, has been helping mental health sufferers across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic through social media by streaming live music, themed nights and chat shows.
To mark one year since she began hosting online music shows, the star decided to run a special two-hour event for her followers which involved performances of three original tracks.
It aimed to celebrate all the good causes that AJ has helped benefit and raise awareness for since the coronavirus outbreak, as well as all the positives that have developed through lockdown.
The mum-of-two raised £325 for Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), a mental health charity that has and continues to help with AJ’s recovery.
AJ said: “Suffering from mental health, BPD and anxiety, my online gigs have helped me focus on the music and helped me to stay connected through lockdown.
“It has certainly helped many others through their darkest days and I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling that is.
“I have enjoyed the banter, laughs, connection, performing (of course) and, in particular, my themed lives where I dress up. It’s been a lot of fun.”
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.
“Personally, my life has completely changed since coronavirus hit,” Aj added “As a single mum, it has been challenging and lonely when the boys have gone to their dads.
“My work also completely changed, having to wear full PPE and work under extremely stressful conditions.
“Unfortunately, following a breakdown I have been unable to return to my job as a dental hygienist due to wearing full PPE and suffering from extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and so on.
“But the singing has taken off amazingly well and I have been very busy with online gigs, writing, recording and releasing music.
“If it wasn’t for the pandemic this wouldn’t have happened. It has also brought a worldwide family into my life and for that I am grateful.
“With regards to my recent fundraising gig, I wanted to give something back to the thousands of people who have supported me and kept me going through this awful time.
“I think it deservesd a celebration of all the hard work and effort put in over the year and of course the successes to come from it all.
“Two hours was difficult to stick to as I had to try to narrow down my setlist, but I couldn’t seem to get it below that mark.
“Each and every song holds special meaning to us all. I wanted it to be a party for all involved.”
AJ performed Born To Make a Difference, a collaboration with Richard Bariball, Hold On, a collaboration with Kevin Buchan, and Bleeding Heart, a collaboration with Angelo K.
She says she was overwhelmed by the success of the event.
“The gig was a huge success, with over 3000 views from the local area to places worldwide – including Canada, America, Slovenia, India, Germany and more,” she added.
“My target was £100, so I am over the moon to have raised over £300.
“It was a highly emotional gig for me being my one-year anniversary.
“A group of my fans had arranged some very special surprises for me, including personal video messages and it was very overwhelming and lovely.
“It was definitely my most special and important gig to date and I’d like to thank everyone who was there to support me. I wouldn’t be here without SAMH.
“The main aim was to bring everyone together for some positivity, fun, good vibes and to raise money for the charity.
“I am so grateful for the work these amazing people do and for their kindness. A link was pinned to the gig where people could click at the end of the show and donate.
“I never thought a year ago that I would have a following of nearly 5,000 people, a lockdown family and new friendships, three singles released, worldwide support and airplay, and a blossoming career in the music industry.
“A year ago, I was at my lowest point and music has quite literally saved my life and many others.
“I want to spread the message that mental health is real and can happen to anyone. And that just because someone appears confident, smiley and that they have it all, you do not know how bad their battles are. The stigma needs to be removed.”