Five independent artists who triumphed over tragedy with cutting-edge music

Ask anyone in a creative industry why they feel compelled to produce art. I’ll hazard a good guess that the answer will be about the transformative powers of creating. For every triumph and tragedy experienced, there’s catharsis to be found for both artist and recipient in the product. But, when in comes to music, it seems the most powerful songs are often rooted in tragedy, or overcoming it. Artists like Adele and Sam Smith channeled their heartbreak into chart-topping albums, while rapper Stormzy tackles mental health with his groundbreaking record. Well, we’ve come across five independent artists who have spectacularly overcome tragedy, demonstrating the kind of superhuman strength that would lead us to believe they’re capable of reaching dizzying heights of the pop pantheon. Check it out…


For Swedish artist Sara Steele, it was a life-threatening bout of meningitis which left her with epilepsy, that changed her whole perspective on music.

“For a long time I pushed away my natural instincts, impulsively grabbing on to stuff that I didn’t really want to do just so that I could have some kind of release,” Steele explains.  “The whole experience has made me less cynical and inspired me in my process of creating and appreciating.”

The result is a groundbreaking album, aptly titled ‘Paroxysm’- which means an outburst of emotion. The record, due out June 13, has been prefaced with a handful of devastatingly candid singles that have already made waves in mainstream media.

Saint Mars

Massive Attack guitarist Angelo Bruschini and his band Saint Mars have teamed up with viral singer Tryzdin Grubbs for anti-bullying anthem ‘Somewhere Somebody’. The single is lifted from ‘Celesteville‘ which is centered on the true story of one 13 year-old boy’s tragic suicide as a result of sustained bullying. The band enlisted Grubbs to give authenticity to the album tracks sung by the protagonist, little realising that Tryzdin himself has suffered significantly as a result of bullying.

Erike Sparks

South London-hailing rapper Erike Sparks is determined to divorce gang culture from rap music. Having narrowly avoided some dangerous situations, Sparks decided to take a step away from hometown with is music. His video for ‘Infrared Beam’ avoids the trademarks of a rap video, swapping the city’s concrete jungle for the panoramic of Scotland’s mountains. It’s a high-quality production but there’s no flashy commodities taking the viewer’s attention away from the music and the rapper himself, as wields a torch during nightfall – a perfect metaphor for his ambition to blaze a trail in rap.

Adam Lanceley

Adam Lanceley was only ten years old when a car accident left him with life-changing injuries and mental health issues. Sustaining a severe brain injury, a crushed pelvis and shattered legs, doctors advised him he was unlikely to walk or talk again. Against all odds, Adam not only proved them wrong but has taken his remarkable recovery to the extreme, running marathons and now carving out a career as a singer-songwriter. Since penning his first song, Adam has been prolific in his output, recording and releasing a whopping seven albums. His next effort, ‘Epitaph to Innocence‘, is imminent. Listen to ‘The Train’s Gone‘ here below.


Lady Geraldine

Scottish singer, Lady Geraldine, spent her former years profoundly deaf until an operation in her early twenties partially recovered her hearing. Gaining just a part of this sense ignited her love of music in a way no-one who has always been able to hear could possibly imagine. But for every triumph, a tragedy followed. Geraldine suffered through an abusive and violent marriage before the clouds parted once again. A chance meeting led her to a legendary producer and songwriter. The connect over a love of Wet, Wet, Wet and Big Country. Together, they went on to pen the songs that would make up ‘Little Miss Blue’, an embodiment of Geraldine’s stoicism and an ode to female empowerment.



2 thoughts on “Five independent artists who triumphed over tragedy with cutting-edge music

  1. This is fantastic! I really enjoy how so many blogs are focusing on mental health in the music industry nowadays. I like this article though because it looks at other aspects beyond depression or anxiety and how those factors influenced the musicians. I had no idea about Steele! Definitely going to look into that and speak to her about epilepsy in the music industry.

    Nicole Mendes
    The Other Side Reviews

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