Gaëllou offers a message of hope and kindness

Backing Gaëllou (far right) in her band are Kathleen Eggers on strings, Grant Jackson on electric and acoustic bass and Derek Craig on percussion and drums. Gaëllou has a “folk-rock” sound.

Kommetjie musician Gaëllou’s new album, Love is My Rebellion, is a story of recovery and hope.

The album, being launched on Sunday August 15, at Cafe Roux in Noordhoek, she says, deals with all the paths she took looking for the purpose and hope she has now found.

“A year ago, on my birthday, I had planned to take my own life,” Gaëllou says, adding that a text message from Alison Geduldt offering to promote Gaëllou’s previous CD changed that plan. Up until that moment, says Gaëllou, Alison had been a stranger who lived down the road from her.

Gaëllou describes it as a turnaround of storybook proportions.

“It gets crazier,” she almost whispers.

Her childhood musical heroes, Tim Parr and Robin Auld, are laying backing tracks on this album, which is produced by Willem Moller.

The album is being promoted by Shoreline Songs, which is a collaboration between Robin Auld and Derek Craig.

Derek plays drums and percussion in Gaëllou’s band.

She is working on this album with the musicians whom she listened to on her walkman, as a young girl “from the wrong side of the tracks” in Pretoria. The young Gaëllou taught herself guitar, and even today, she can’t read music. But she can play it.

She arrived in Cape Town to play a gig with a previous band many years ago, and just never went back. She made Cape Town home. Her friend and fellow musician, Marica Moon, taught her to sing.

Gaëllou has come far. Far from the childhood abuse she is now able to speak about, far from the fears of a little girl who wondered about what family is, and even further from the heroin and tik she tried to escape her pain through.

“I am so glad I didn’t give up just before the miracle,” she says.

She says the album is, in part, an expression of gratitude to the band members who are now what she calls her chosen family, and a message of hope to anyone feeling especially lost in the second year of a global pandemic.

Ironically, while the rest of the world lost their grip on things, Gaëllou got hers back. She went into therapy and got clean. She faced the reasons for her addiction. And she has come out of the experience calm, clear and strong.

“It’s really important that other people who have been through what I have, understand they have a choice. The act of abuse is now over. We may still be impacted by it, but we have a choice in how to do deal with it. Initially I chose drugs, for the pain. Now, I have a new language of kindness. Hence the name of the album, because in this learning to live and love again, love truly is my rebellion.”

Language of Kindness is the title to one of the songs on Gaëllou’s album and it features yet another special element of her road to recovery: the horse, Meredith.

Her band members aside, Gaëllou credits this horse and her time volunteering at Tom Ro Haven in Noordhoek, with saving her life.

Gillian McCullogh runs Tom Ro Haven as a sanctuary for previously abused horses who now work as therapy animals.

The centre is based on the field on the corner of Silvermine and Noordhoek Main roads.

Gillian describes the bond between Gaëllou and Meredith as very special.

“Meredith was badly abused, used for bush racing and was completely overbred. She came to us in 2019 and bonded to Gaëllou immediately. Over time, Gaëllou became the woman she was always meant to be.”

At her upcoming album launch at Cafe Roux, Gaëllou is going to auction off a painting she did of farrier’s tools to raise funds for Tom Ro Haven.

Gaëllou says she wants to give back for the goodness she has received, and now every week the band arrives unannounced to a person who needs some comfort and care and plays them a song or two.

“The effect,“ says Derek, ”is quite incredible, and the transformation in Gaëllou is equally amazing. We started these random acts of kindness mainly in the valley, but have performed online acts on FaceTime in London, Darwin and Majorca.“

Of Gaëllou, he says, “Her story is about hope and using love and hope to conquer fear.”

Covid protocols apply at the album launch. Arrive at 4pm for show which starts at 5pm. Tickets are R120. Visit caferoux.co.za to book.

Kommetjie musician songwriter Gaëllou with Meredith the horse from the Tom Ro Haven in Noordhoek.