November 18, 2015 Kamal El-Wattar

Bonnie McCoy Comes Alive – A Story of Rebirth

Bonnie McCoy had been in a cocoon for 30 years—a cocoon of dedication to her family, caregiving, and self-sacrifice. Inside of her cocoon, the musical gift passed down from Memphis Minnie to her father waited patiently for its time to be reborn in her. When her husband was paralyzed, she realized that it was time for that gift to spring to life and touch the lives of many.

Blues music has been in my family for many generations starting with the great Memphis Minnie, a groundbreaking 1920s-era female musician in a genre dominated by men. My father, too, was an amazing musician. I have always known that they gave their musical gift to me, but for the past 30 years, I have placed myself on the back burner to do everything for my family, including my beloved four grandchildren who are in my custody. I have no regrets—my family and my grandkids are my greatest joys. Now, I am ready for the world to get to know the real Bonnie McCoy and to pursue my own dream. It’s time to step out on a limb and live!

My dear father, who taught me so much about the music I love, whom I took care of until he died, told me on his deathbed, “Bonnie, you’re going to have to start taking care of yourself.” I finally realized what he meant when my wonderful husband Marcus, the man who sang original songs for his coworkers and helped me care for my grandchildren, became paralyzed. He’d been diagnosed with spinal synopsis and a herniated disc two years before the horrific snowstorm last February. He went outside and tried to shovel the snow. I yelled out to him, “You don’t need to be doing that in your condition!” But he said he knew what he was doing and would be okay. Three days later, he went to the ER with shooting pains in his back and shoulder. He became completely unable to walk, and the doctors told us after his 3-hour MRI that he had a 50% chance of never walking again.

I saw my husband paralyzed and thought, “That could have been me.” The realization that someone could instantly lose something so important and miss out on ever accomplishing their dreams hit me so hard. I told myself, “Bonnie, now is the time. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been true. I’ve been there for people. But I have so much to offer!” My body was ravished with inspiration.

Marcus had surgery and surprised his doctors by walking again in less than a month—they’d never seen that happen. My husband walked himself out of that hospital with no wheelchair or ramp. I thought, if Marcus can do that after all we have been through, it’s time for me to step up to the plate and finally do all the things I can do. He inspired me so deeply, and with him by my side, I finally saw what my daddy meant when he told me to start taking care of myself.

My health hasn’t been the greatest, but I’ve seen improvement as I do a lot of positive things each day to keep myself healthy. I see my doctors on time, I eat well on my road to becoming a vegetarian, and I say a little prayer as I take my vitamins each morning.

There’s so much I know I am capable of doing, and I want to share my experience the world. I want the world to know me. It’s time.

Every bit of pain and every bit of joy comes to life through Bonnie’s passionate singing. This summer, through Vitanova’s “Dreams Come True” program, Bonnie and her husband Marcus May will record an album of original music to share with the world.

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