Breath of Heaven - Collaboration of Katie Malik & Ashley Ballou-Bonnema
We are all constantly in search of that in which connects us to one another. We seek out commonalities, passions, and purpose that may lead us into being a part of something greater than ourselves. It’s in that great search for meaning and understanding that we realize we are simply seeking out the simple hope of not feeling alone. We are seeking out a place we wholly belong.
When I met Katie for the first time, I have to admit, my stomach was consumed with butterflies. It was the classic first meeting jitters and it was via Skype. Why was I so nervous and anxious? Well, because there are very few people in the world that have the capacity to truly understood what it is like to really walk in my shoes. Or, even more so, sing with these lungs. You see, Katie and I are both singers. We connected over our love for singing classical music, performing on a stage, our travels, and unquenchable thirst for adventure. But there was something that connected us at an even deeper level than all of that. It was something that we both knew should logically make it impossible to be a singer. A disease called cystic fibrosis. It also is a disease that would never allow us to sing in the same opera house, performance hall, or living room because of the potential danger we post to one another due to infection control.
But, I knew if anyone truly understood what it is like to really feel yourself take in air and thoughtfully set it back upon your breath in the form of a song, it would be Katie. And she wouldn’t just understand this, but against all odds, she too, would live for it. It was a fast friendship rooted in things we had experienced simultaneously but in different life journeys. We both credit our love of singing to keeping us healthy and our lungs challenged. Singing feeds our soul while combating the silent effects of CF hidden within our bodies.
As singers there is little to nothing we love more than making music with others. There’s a feeling of electricity that shoots through your body and enlivens every cell when you suddenly find synchronicity with another’s voice. It’s life-giving. Katie and I had talked about what it would be like to sing together and how truly glorious that would be. But, cystic fibrosis makes that an impossible dream.
Or, is it?
Katie and I set out to make music together. We are singers first and foremost, and we just happen to have cystic fibrosis. We may not be able to make music in person, but we can still use our voices to make memorable and meaningful music together. And we did.
With 1,500 miles between us we created this meaningful duet. This experience of putting together a song from Washington and South Dakota had its challenges. But, Katie and I live with cystic fibrosis every day of our lives, and that in-and-of-itself has taught us we are capable of doing anything. This passion project has taught us that we are not alone in our journeys. It has taught us that together we can create something bigger than ourselves. It has illuminated our passion and given our voices a collective resonance - one that shows even with cystic fibrosis we will make life-giving music together.
May this project fill your hearts with the reminder that you’re never alone and the belief that anything is possible.
Learn more about Katie Malik at katiemalik.com