“BEEN DEALT THIS HAND AND I'M GONNA SEE IT THROUGH” · Parkinson's Resource Organization


Category: Newsworthy Notes

Musician Charlie Nimovitz sings not of the blues but of faith, fragility, and overcoming challenges. “I've discovered that Parkinson’s has played a big role in my music and my music has benefited greatly from my having Parkinson's.” So begins an essay, posted on the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s website, by singer-songwriter (and now Jewish Home resident) 64-year-old Charlie Nimovitz. “Parkinson’s is not much fun,” his writing goes on to reflect, “but it's chock-full of lessons about humility, perseverance and gratitude. I feel like I'm coming from a deeper place with my writing and singing, and many people tell me they agree.” The slew of stellar reviews from both notables in the industry and music-lovers for Charlie’s 2005 CD offering, Awkward Dance (for which he wrote and sang all the tunes, as well as played the accordion and keyboards; the title of this article is a line from one of the tracks) are in tune with his above observation.

Notes one write-up: “[Awkward Dance] is a living, breathing, multifaceted jewel. The new collection is rich with finely crafted lyrics and gorgeous, soaring melodies. The CD is filled with songs of transformation, healing, courage, strength, beauty, celebration and humor. … These songs are mostly upbeat, joyous and celebratory; many are romantic and achingly beautiful.” Music has been a part of Charlie’s life since his teenage years. He began writing songs when he was 15 and then he learned to play the guitar. Adding mastery of the piano to his repertoire and, as a student, singing at a café near the Santa Barbara campus was followed by performing in bars and restaurants. He progressed to working as a band leader and performing his original works, as well as some covers, at weddings and social events.

When Charlie was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, “I let the disease keep me from my music, from writing, recording and performing songs,” he says. “Performing – especially the idea of shaking in front of a crowd on stage – was out of the question.” But coming to the realization that music mattered too much to spurn, Charlie started using Parkinson's, directly or indirectly, as the subject for some of his original compositions. “My songs that deal with Parkinson's can educate folks about what it’s like, inside and out,” he explains. “But we who have PD are fully human, and so my other songs show that we have many of the same feelings and concerns as people who don't have to deal with this challenge.”

His 2006 compilation, Sacred Ground, focuses on songs of healing, thankfulness and reconciliation, and reflect his spiritual beliefs. “I also write a lot of meditative music that heals with words,” he points out in an earlier interview. “I believe there’s a force – God – and I try to help people connect with that.” Charlie also found the impetus to resume performing on stage. Speaking at that time, “I find myself shaking on stage at my own concerts, having people with and without PD telling me how moved they are by seeing me in plain sight, not hiding, doing what I was born to do. Just by making music, live or on CD, I make a statement that I will not be stopped.” And Charlie has indeed not stopped. Says Jewish Home recreation coordinator Richard Goldberg: “I recently arranged for Charlie to get a ukulele. Being able to hold and play an instrument validates his history and identity. Acquiring the ukulele for Charlie is an example of our efforts to individualize care and to successfully find creative ways for Jewish Home residents to continue to have quality of life.” “My songs are all aimed at the heart,” Charlie concludes. But his music, as well as his own actions and accomplishments, do not just touch hearts. They also continue to captivate and inspire his audience – including those to whom Awkward Dance is dedicated, “my fellow Parkinson's warriors.”

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Updated: August 16, 2017