Belfast Telegraph

Pianist Lee McVicker's moving tribute in memory of mum

By Angela Rainey

A talented pianist from Co Antrim who composed an emotional melody as a final goodbye to his mother has received international acclaim.

Lee McVicker (23) was devastated when his mother Denise McGrotty (42) died suddenly on June 5, 2014.

She had suffered from mental health problems which resulted in Lee spending some time in foster care before being raised by his grandmother Margaret McVicker (73).

He did not realise his mother had passed away until two hours before her funeral and did not get to say goodbye.

Heartbroken, Lee buried his grief by joining the Irish Guards four weeks later.

However, after a year he was discharged on medical grounds after fracturing his hip.

Back in the comfort of his Bushmills home with his grandmother, who he "couldn't live without", he was inspired to release his grief by composing Final Goodbye as a tribute to his mother.

"There was so much I never got to tell her, things I never got to ask," he said.

"Music was my way of saying goodbye. I was sitting at my piano about a month ago and I composed the piece, but I've just released it online.

"So far I have been overwhelmed with the reception - it has been really well received. I wanted it to help others who were grieving or coming to terms with loss and also to reach out and engage with people who have mental health problems. I wanted people to feel the emotion of it, to know that it is okay to not feel okay."

Lee said hundreds of people had got in touch saying the song had given them hope.

"I'm over the Moon, it done what I set out to do," he added.

His talent was first recognised when he was just five at a youth club. While other boys played football, he would tinker on the piano teaching himself Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

By the age of seven teachers at Bushmills Primary told his grandmother that he ought to attend piano lessons as he was able to play hymns for the morning assembly by ear.

At 14 Lee had achieved grade six in his piano exams, and now spends up to five hours a day reciting and composing.

He has also held positions of musical director in churches in the Bushmills area and has been booked to play at a wedding in York this week.

Lee plays live online, taking requests from the public.

"Music is an unitary language that everyone can understand," he added.

"It takes me to my happy place and I'm glad it has done that for others. I'm so thankful for the support I have received, it has helped me with my grief and especially to my gran as I don't know where I'd be without her."

Videos of the pianist can be seen on the Lee McVicker Music Facebook page.

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