Inspired by a father’s 1,400 mile journey to hear his dead daughter’s heartbeat

Sarah McQuaid Photo by Phil Nicholls

The true story of a father who cycled 1,400 miles to meet the man who received his daughter’s heart after she died is the inspiration behind a new short film featuring the music of Sarah McQuaid.

Folk artist McQuaid teamed up with filmmaker Brett Harvey to make a short video inspired by the story of Bill Conner who rode across the US to hear his daughter’s heart beating in the body of its new recipient, Loumonth Jack Jr. The 21-year-old’s life was saved by Abbey’s heart. Abbey, who had registered to be an organ donor, had died at the age of 20 after a short illness.

Harvey drew on a cast of Cornish actors to create a story inspired by these events and used McQuaid’s haunting new track Slow Decay to underpin the film. 

McQuaid says: “I’m so, so glad that Brett came up with this beautiful concept for Slow Decay. It’s something I feel very strongly about, and I hope it’ll inspire anyone who’s not already registered as an organ donor to sign up.”

Harvey says: “I had wanted to tell a version of this story for a while, and as soon as I heard Sarah’s beautiful song I knew it was the right fit.”

Slow Decay is off McQuaid’s just-released fifth solo album, If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous.

Born in Spain and raised in Chicago, McQuaid now calls Cornwall home. She says: “It’s been a real joy and privilege to be able to make my home in a place that’s so beautiful and that’s also such a hotbed of creativity. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have the music career I have now if it hadn’t been for the people I’ve met and worked with since moving to Cornwall.”

The film by Harvey isn’t the only one associated with If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous. With the help of Arts Council England Grants For The Arts and from Cultivator, McQuaid commissioned Harvey’s film of Slow Decay and two videos by Cornish filmmaker Mawgan Lewis. These are a documentary on the making of If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous and a music video of lead single The Tug Of The Moon.

McQuaid kicks off a six-week UK and Ireland tour at Mousehole’s Solomon Browne Memorial Hall on April 20. She will tour the USA in September and October, and hopes to extend her touring range into Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2019. 

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Bronwyn Bidwell is an Australian journalist and editor based in London. She enjoys writing about music, books, history and popular culture.