Chart-topping musicians can come from all backgrounds, but this latest musical sensation is certainly a sweet surprise. Margaret Mackie, an 83-year-old woman with dementia and resident of Northcare Suites Care Home, a senior care facility in in Edinburgh, Scotland, just recorded a heartwarming version of “My Way” with her caregiver – and it’s a certified hit!
Mackie’s journey to the top of the charts began at her care home’s Christmas party, where she sang the Frank Sinatra song with her caregiver, Jamie Lee Morley. The caregiver and part time musician never thought he would be working in a senior care facility.
But the past few months in the senior care facility and caring for Margaret have been life changing. He posted a video of his duet with Mackie on YouTube, saying “Every day in work we sing this song together and I do whatever I can to brighten her day and all the other residents.”
Looking back, Morley thought he was listening to the radio when he first heard Mackie singing. He was walking past a lounge at the senior care facility when he heard a lovely and on-pitch rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” “I was stunned,” Morley said. “I’ve loved singing and music since I was a little lad, and I could just tell that Margaret did, too. Her voice is amazing.”
A former whiskey distillery worker, Mackie rarely remembers one day from the next. Jordan Simpson, manager of the senior care facility, said that while dementia made Mackie forgetful, she still recalls the lyrics of her favorite songs.
Simpson said, “Singing is something that makes Margaret happy. She has a great singing voice. And although she has dementia, she has a great memory for song lyrics. She and Jamie sing together most of the day.”
The caregiver began to use music as part of Mackie’s therapy. “You can just see the change of the look in her face when she starts singing or she hears music that she likes. She comes alive when she sings, and she looks so happy, it is beautiful to see. It is the power of music.”
Mackie’s daughter Mairi Hunter added, “It has brought her back to life. The dementia was taking a hold of her and she was getting sad with it, but this has given her a new lease of life. It’s quite remarkable how she can remember the lyrics. It just seems to come back to her.”
The song choice for the Christmas party also holds personal meaning for Morley. “For those close to me will know this was my Grandad’s funeral song who our family sadly lost to Alzheimer’s last year. I’ve never really sang this song as it’s a classic, but I knew how much Margaret and her family would love it.”
He recalled being so moved as he sang with Mackie. “But what an amazing few months it has been. Last night I was asked to sing and host the Christmas party for the residents… and I have never been so emotional on stage my entire time of doing what I love.”
After the video of the duet surprisingly, but happily, went viral, Morley took Mackie to a studio to make a professional record of the song. “It was the first time that she’d been in the studio, but was like she had done it a 100 times before. She’s got such an amazing voice. The fact that she can do that while living with dementia is mind-blowing. It’s just crazy,” said Morley.
Now, not only is Mackie a hit singer in her 80s and famous beyond her senior care facility, the song is also helping others with proceeds going to Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s Society. Morley remarked, “For her to get up on stage at her age and have so much courage and fight and sing so beautifully absolutely blew my mind. This is a moment I will never ever forget. Be more like Margaret and live each day to the full and sing your absolute hearts out!”
Mackie, on the other hand, said she wouldn’t mind recording another song, and even joked that she may record an entire album! She related, “It’s great seeing your face in all those newspapers. It’s nice to have a busy life like that, every now and then.”
The hit single is moving fast on the download charts in the UK, climbing ahead of world-known artists such as Ed Sheeran and James Blunt. The music comes with a video of the duo’s trip to the recording studio.
According to Morley, “This video isn’t about being pitch perfect but it’s about this amazing woman doing what she loves the most, which is singing. I feel so blessed to have been able to get her up to sing with me. A moment in my heart forever.”
Available on Apple, Amazon, and Google Play, the single is an inspiration to people with loved ones afflicted with dementia. “It’s been a very special moment for me and Margaret. The world needs this type of happy stories with all the bad stuff going on in the world.”
Morley added, “For someone with dementia, it fascinates me how amazing music makes her feel. She becomes a different person. It’s just incredible. She has definitely got the music in her blood. She is an inspiration to so many people — especially me! I just love her.”
See the amazing video of the two below: