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Hayley Kitchener at UnitingWomen 2018. Photo: Megan Haryanto

Out of the ice cave, into the light

Performing artist Hayley Kitchener (stage name Ellah K) shared her story at UnitingWomen 2018, captivating the audience with her song “Ice Cave”. Hayley, who is vision-impaired, has part-time roles as Young Adults, Families and Mission Pastor at St Lucia Uniting Church, Brisbane and assistant chaplain at QUT, and is a candidate for Minister of the Word.

How did music come to be such an important part of your life?

When I was very young my grandmother started to sing to me and the first song she taught me was “Somewhere over the rainbow”. I have memories of sitting beside her and singing and she realised that I had a voice. I became involved in choirs, eisteddfods and drama and when I was 16 had a wonderful mentor who was an opera singer. She encouraged me to go into opera, which is what I did. I did a music degree at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and travelled overseas.

I left the music industry for a while to focus on studying theology, and now I am getting back into it, writing and singing contemporary music. I’ve just signed a new contract and will be releasing a Christmas EP this year.

What is the story behind “Ice Cave”?

I went through a challenging time in my life a few years ago and the song came out of that. I’ve often equated rain and storms as a metaphor for difficult times, and as I started to put the accompaniment and music together, the words about sitting in the darkness (because I can’t see, and that’s darkness too) listening to the rain just came to me.

When I listened to the song after I’d recorded it, it actually sent me a message: you can sit here in this ice cave of reality, which is a metaphor for “in this dark place”, or you can make the choice to get yourself out of this situation. That was the turning point, and I began thinking, how can I help others to find light and warmth?

Most of us are afraid of the dark. I grew up very independent, and apart from getting a few resources here and there, I was pretty much integrated into the sighted world at a young age. But you know what? I’m afraid of the dark too.

I’ve lived with darkness all my life and I can’t say that there aren’t times when I am afraid—but that’s not always because I can’t see. Life throws challenges that cause us fear, but it’s about what we do with that fear, and how we use it.

What does re-discovering the wonder of Christmas mean to you? 

Re-discovering wonder is re-discovering who you are, who you are created to be. I believe that God created us to be glorious and wonderful, and a big part of my journey has been rediscovering who I am. I feel called to make a difference in the world, to empower others and to bring healing and hope.

Follow Hayley on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.



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