Feeling a bit musically stir-crazy in mid-March, Cathy Douglas suggested that she and her husband, Scott, record and share online a rendition of the song “Danny Boy” for St. Patrick’s Day.
“We propped a phone on a pillow on our couch and shared the song. A couple of people mentioned afterward that we should consider doing that more often, so we developed what we called our ‘Living Room Series,’” said Cathy. “We didn’t use any mics, PA system or amplifiers — we were just making music together in an intimate setting, and it became very life-giving for us to stay creative and produce music.”
The duo shared nearly 50 songs on a daily basis during the coronavirus stay-at-home quarantine.
“It gave us a reason to get up,” Scott said. “We’d head into each day knowing we had to get that song together — people really enjoyed what we shared.”
“At first, we just figured we’d need to focus on upbeat songs to help people stay encouraged, but we realized that even some of the slower, melodic songs can also lift the spirits quite a bit,” Cathy added. “We wound up with quite a variety of songs.”
The two are well-versed in the therapeutic aspects music can provide, especially after sharing their talents in a variety of nursing homes in recent years.
“I would have never guessed that we would love it as much as we do. When started sharing at nursing homes, something extraordinary happened. When dealing with a population in extra need of hope, the right song causes something magical to happen. We would see someone touch someone else’s hand and smile,” said Cathy. “We went into those situations with a goal of trying to instill a sense of hope and joy — music has a way of helping people transcend the situations they are in.”
Music was a primary language in Cathy’s family growing up.
“My dad was a music educator — my mom still teaches music in the Susquehanna Valley,” she said. “I always have been drawn to the keyboard — in fact, I was the assigned pianist for all our family gatherings. I learned to appreciate the music of the generations before me — and that has been really helpful when playing nursing homes, and other venues.”
While Scott’s family wasn’t as keen to perform music together, they enjoyed listening to different genres together, leading him to purchase his first guitar in the 10th grade.
“I remember when the Beatles were strong, I just had to get a Beatles album — they were my first big influence, but over time I also began to appreciate musicians such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix,” he said.
The two met at Saint Columba Catholic Church in Bloomsburg, where Cathy still helps coordinate music.
“We developed a friendship, and started writing songs together,” said Cathy. “Around that same time, my husband passed away. As life went on, Scott and I fell in love and got married.”
The two, used to playing solo music for quite some time, struggled at first to harmonize their sound.
“Scott said we should try it a different way so he wasn’t in my space, and I wasn’t in his,” said Cathy. “We have gotten much better as the years progressed.”
Scott said that Cathy is better at finding harmony in their music, and she as an ear for instrumentation.
“She is much more technical, while I am kind of shooting from the hip,” he said. “It works out well.”
The two recorded an album together a few years ago, and look forward to singing live music again in the near future. For the time being, you can find out more about their music at “The Douglases” page on Facebook, “The Douglases” channel on YouTube and at the website www.thedouglasesmusic.com.
Listen to their full interview in this week’s Keeping the Beat podcast.