What Country Music Tells Us About Wellness

What Country Music Tells Us About Wellness Alice Randall is the author of The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada's Rules. She is a Harvard educated African-American novelist who lives in Nashville and writes country songs. Randall has emerged as an innovative food activist committed to reforms that support healthy bodies and healthy communities. With her daughter Caroline Randall Williams, she co-authored the acclaimed cookbook Soul Food Love. Watch the 2015 Game Plan For Your Health Video featuring Alice Randall and other Vanderbilt Faculty and Staff. For more information visit alicerandall.com Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams.

Begin Transcription

Laura Osterman:      Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Laura Osterman with Health Plus. We are here today with Alice Randall, writer and resident at Vanderbilt University and author of “Ada’s Rules” and “Soul Food Love.” We are glad to have you here today. Alice Randall:           I am thrilled to be with you Laura. Laura Osterman:      Can you tell us about your courses that you will be teaching this fall? Alice Randall:           I came to Vanderbilt teaching a course called Country Lyric in American Culture, and this fall for the first time I am going to be looking at a particular aspect, black presence and influences in country music, which I love because a lot of people do not think of black presences in country music, beyond, say, Charlie Pride, or the banjo, but in fact, black people have been recording country music since the 20s. Laura Osterman:      Now, what does country music have to tell us about our health and wellness? Alice Randall:           Country music stays close to folk wisdom, and I often like to think in terms of what would country song tell me when I am approaching all kinds of problems. And when I think about health and wellness, one of the big ongoing themes of country is always family, and I think that one of the sort of country ideas is family wealth is family health,. And I think that we are all in this together, and I think that that is one of the things that teach us, but I also really like to think about the wonderful Don Schlitz’s song, “The Gambler.” “You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.” When we are pursuing our health goals, we have got to play the cards in our hand right now, not the cards that we wish were there, but the cards that are there. We need to know when it is time for steady action and when it is time for really quick action, and sometimes that run is get back on the treadmill, and sometimes it is getting expert help when it comes to health. Laura Osterman:      When we are thinking about our health, there at times can be challenges and obstacles along the way. Can you speak to your approach to obstacles? Alice Randall:           Well, one of the things as a writer in residence and as a woman who truly struggles with her weight who had gotten way over 200 pounds, way over 225 pounds, and under 200 pounds, I think one of the things I have to offer is the idea that we can use art whether it is music or film or novels to help inspire us on our health journeys whether that is dealing with a diagnosis of cancer, diabetic, or infectious disease or whether that is dealing with a lifestyle-oriented illness. So, art can inspire us and sustain us on the hard days, and that is what I find, whether it is the music we play while we are trying to exercise or the book that we read that lets us not give up or not give up hope when we are dealing with the long chronic illness or struggling with an addiction. Art, I think, is the thing that adds to all the traditional medicines that may be the difference of making things work and not work. Laura Osterman:      What are the things that we can do as a community to be well? Alice Randall:           One of the things, I think, is stay in community and to realize as I said family heath is family wealth and family wealth is family health, that is, we are all in this together. So, I think that when it comes to be lunch time, encouraging someone to take the walk, to encourage each other to keep moving toward our health goals and make it more comfortable for people to actually scrutinize where they are in relation to their goal, to start again the next day. We all have different health challenges. Some of us are, as I said, facing a diagnosis; some of us are dealing with trying to change a lifestyle or something that has really become a “deathstyle” back into a lifestyle. We are dealing with different things, but we all have health challenges, and we all have health goals. Sometimes it is as simple as encouraging each other to make that mammogram appointment and to encourage sharing optimism with each other. So, I think that that is a community goal and to recognize it has actually community impact. I am concerned about the soul in the self, but economics play a role, and we all have an interest in all of us being as well as we can be as mutual interest and an economic interest. Laura Osterman:      We certainly appreciate you being in community with us in this conversation, and we thank you so much. Alice Randall:           I am thrilled, and one of the things I love about Vanderbilt is in terms of wellness you are making every voice heard. We need the scientists, we need the nurses, we need the artists, we need the people, everyone, every voice has to be heard. All the people who are behind the scenes making this place clean and safe, thank you for walking with all those voices into this conversation about heath. Laura Osterman:      If you like more information, we will include some links at the bottom of this page. Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please e-mail it to us at health.wellness@vanderbilt.edu or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu. -- end of recording  --