Chattanooga Now Angie Aparo, Kathy Mattea performing at Songbirds Guitar Museum

Chattanooga Now Angie Aparo, Kathy Mattea performing at Songbirds Guitar Museum

After a stroke wiped out memory of his lyrics, Aparo turned to Siri to relearn his music

February 14th, 2018 by Staff Report in Chattnow Music

An Evening with Angie Aparo starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Songbirds Guitar Museum, 35 Station St. Tickets are $15. Jordan Hallquist will open. (Facebook.com Photo)

An Evening with Angie Aparo starts at 7...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Kathy Mattea at Songbirds Friday

"The Acoustic Living Room," songs and stories with Kathy Mattea, is Friday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. at Songbirds Guitar Museum, 35 Station St.

Tickets are $50.

For more information: 423-531-2473.

Kathy Mattea (Facebook.com photo)

Kathy Mattea (Facebook.com photo)

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

When Mike Dougher is scheduling artists for Songbirds Guitar Museum, each one "has a reason for being here," he says. "We're not just booking a show."

Locals may have caught one of Angie Aparo's shows when he played weekly gigs at the SandBar or with his full band at Rhythm and Brews.

"It was an exciting day when Angie said he'd gotten a call from Faith Hill," says Dougher. She'd heard his song, "Cry," and asked if he would change the lyrics slightly to fit her.

Their collaboration led to a No. 1 song and guest spots singing with Faith Hill to 15,000 people at a time. "There is no one I've done more shows with," says Dougher.

Aparo's show at Songbirds on Wednesday, Feb. 21, will be quite poignant because for a time in 2016, it appeared the singer-songwriter's career might have ended after a life-threatening stroke.

His stroke cost him the ability to communicate; aphasia robbed his recall for names of even everyday objects, and all the lyrics he'd written over decades vanished from his memory, he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Aparo has written in a blog that he was a third of the way through his new album, "Life Is a Flower, Life is a Gun," when the stroke occurred. Afraid his short-term memory might not return, he says he had the "crazy idea" to remake the album with Siri. Maybe Siri could recite the verses he'd written and he could read a prompter to sing the choruses over her.

"So I began. I asked Siri to read back my poems as I held my phone up to the microphone. And it worked! I sang short pieces of music, balancing them around her recordings of my poems. The first song I made with Siri was 'Church Bells vs the Television.'

"Six weeks into the making of 'Church Bells' I noticed something happening. I realized my interaction with Siri, my relationship to words on the page (in my phone) were changing. And my memory of those words was growing.

"Over the course of the next eight months, and with enough of my abilities returning, I was able to finish the album (only needing Siri to help me with a few of the songs). And obviously, those are the most meaningful songs on the record for me."

"When I heard Angie had had a stroke I couldn't believe it," says Dougher. "The next time I hear him sing songs like "Wonderland," or "Free Man," they'll have a much larger impact."