In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, the Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!
Today, Emma Paunil (she/her/hers) shares Soul Flame, a song and music video that reminds us that even in our darkest hour, there exists hope and purpose to re-ignite our “Soul Flame.” The song debuted on World Suicide Prevention Day, September, 10, 2021, and goes beyond the music as many of the cast and crew involved shared their personal experiences with suicide in a series of companion interviews.
Emma herself is a pianist and musician of over 20 years. Her passion is emotional intelligence and healing, and integrates her various art forms – including her self-help and children’s book authorship, her acting, directing, and other creative outlets – in order to inspire this emotional understanding. Soul Flame embodies this passion and is rooted in her experiences. Emma is making it a mission to demystify and de-stigmatize available therapy techniques available for those who need help.
The music video features a story-teller (the artist), painting the experience of a young girl who experienced loss, bullying, and other emotional trauma. In the end, after we witness the harmful emotional effects of burying emotions as the young girl becomes a teen, we learn that even in our darkest hour, there exists hope and purpose to re-ignite our “Soul Flame.”
The video offers each of us the chance to watch and engage with our own thoughts and struggles and find our own meaning. From Emma, “As Soul Flame has been played across the world, there have been many interpretations as to what actually happens in the music video. People ask me if the father commits suicide in the music video, or if the mother does. I’ve even had a group reflect upon watching the video that, ‘this is exactly what happens with many teens — they feel they cannot reach out to anyone, sometimes even if they have the best parent in the world. Parents need to reach out to their teens.’” The video highlights experience and perspective to allow us, the viewers, to reflect on our own.
The accompanying interviews here expand on creators’ experiences and engagement in this work. The cast and crew reflect on their own experiences and offer thoughts (“Does my life look like what I want it to look like?”, “There is no set formula for [mental health]”, “a new angle/view/perspective can help”) and pull in experiences from past professional life as well, including a look at law enforcement and mental health and where we can keep striving for better. For me, watching the videos and the interviews gave me the chance to engage with myself and think about my own struggles and what I’ve been working on in therapy as I engaged with the story and the words. In Emma’s words – “I feel that whomever watches the music video will take the perspective in which they need the most for their well-being.” Words have power, but we also have the power to reframe them and support ourselves by finding our Soul Flame.