The music in my soul
Ladysmith local Catherine Shuttleworth is a strong, independent woman. Her drive and passion for people has seen her lead an extraordinary life filled with music, art and youth. “I grew up in an artistic family. My dad has always been musical. He played in both his own bands as well as in church. He has been instrumental in encouraging and training young and old musicians for over half a century. My mother keeps herself busy with painting and crafting projects. Growing up in that kind of environment meant that there was always something artistic happening.”
When she finished school, she set off to study Education. “Education is the building blocks on which we build our future. Not just as individuals, but as a community and a country. Education should be seen as one of the most important fields, because we are developing and nurturing our future. I decided to come back to Ladysmith to teach the young people here to be more open-minded and to know that there is so much more out there than the micro-environments they find themselves in.”
There was a hurdle waiting for her in her hometown that she had to overcome. Something that would test her dedication. “When I came back, there were no teaching positions open. I decided that I would volunteer instead.” Volunteering brought with it so many priceless lessons. “I learnt a lot about young people and the way they see the world.”
Mnambithi VET College came to hear about this dynamic young teacher. “The college approached me to lecture for them. I enjoyed the freedom of the college. Children are allowed to express themselves and to be who they are without sweating the small stuff too much. I loved the interaction and freshness of young people. What made it all worth it for me is when they get that Eureka moment where they finally get it.”
Since joining the college in 1999, she has been promoted to Assistant Director Curriculum Services. “My role is to co-ordinate and promote the best teaching and learning experience.”
Catherine is in a band called Expectations that her father started with members of their congregation. “It was a long journey for me to gain enough confidence to get up on stage and sing. A music teacher once told me that I was no good at singing. This destroyed my confidence. I would always turn the microphone off, until one day my dad gave me a microphone that couldn’t turn off.
I then started singing at church as the worship leader. There I learnt things that no book or building can teach. I learnt how to connect to and guide the audience and realised what they want and what they enjoy.”
She is still in the Expectations. “We play all kinds of music, from oldies, country, rock and pop. I enjoy all genres of music , but sometimes there is a song that just speaks to you.”
Her motto in life is; it’s not over until it’s over.
“I believe in treating others the way you want to be treated. People matter to me and I think there is a general lack of empathy in the world today. Compassion doesn’t cost us anything; why can’t you simply choose to be good to others.”
In a world where anything is possible, Catherine is confident in her super power. “I am a redhead and that is my super power! I think redheads are strong, driven and dedicated people. If there is a job to do, a redhead is the one to do it.”
This talented musician is also a published poet. “When I studied, I had some poems published, but I think as I grew up, poetry became a more personal thing. It would be quite hard for me to share my poems now. I do still write. I also write songs. My songs are about life in general, my experiences and the way I see the world.”
While she sees herself as ambitious, she has no definite plans for the future. “I love this town and I don’t see myself leaving here. I’m finally in a place where I’m happy and is happiness not what we all strive for? In that case, my plan for the future is to stay happy and be positive.”
Get It Northern KZN & Midlands October 2018