Windsor artist Tara Watts celebrates new normal after traumatic cycling injury

Singer-song writer Tara Watts said a traumatic accident has changed the way that she writes her music.

'Everything was stopped, you know? But now it's all — it's back!'

Tara Watts describes how her songwriting has changed following her accident. 0:35

When Tara Watts strums the notes of a new song she just finished, two very distinctive parts of her life are woven within the lyrics: before and after her accident.

"I've been fighting the good fight," the Windsor born singer-songwriter said, smiling brightly inside her Walkerville home nearly 18 months after a serious cycling crash.

That fight has taken the musician from a hospital bed where she dealt with a traumatic brain injury and back to the stage, performing her music with a new outlook on life.

Watts can't remember the accident. All she knows is what she's been told — a woman found her sprawled out on the street near her bike in June of 2016 and dialled 911. 

Steady recovery

Watts wasn't wearing a helmet, something she regrets and encourages others to do.

Doctors told her that she had a concussion and a brain bleed that would require, at minimum, six weeks of rest. 

Watts plays a new song she started writing before her accident and finished while she was recovering. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

 Watts tried to jump back into her daily routine soon after the accident, but found it was too much. 

"I was out, I was out for the count," said Watts. "It totally forced me to re-think everything I was doing for a significant amount of time."

"I have a new appreciation on life and my days and my time," - Tara Watts

The folk, gospel and rock inspired artist couldn't keep tempo. She had trouble singing and struggled playing guitar.

"Everything was stopped, you know? But now it's all — it's back!"

Watch Watts preform

Tara Watts explains how she finished a song that she started writing before her accident. 1:15

Changes to the craft

Watts said up until recently the accident would hover in her mind as she went about her day. Now she believes that's all behind her. 

"I have a new appreciation on life and my days and my time," she said, adding that she's been playing gigs and has her eyes on a set at a regional folk festival. 

But the accident has left it's mark on the way she creates her music. 

Watts said she has a lot of gratitude for the people who helped her in the weeks and months following her accident. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"Before I think I used music as therapy," said Watts. "I would write in the depths of despair, in the midst of heaviness and hardships."

Now she wants to focus on something new.

"I really want to work toward looking at beauty in every thing and cherishing that."

Strong support

Watts said she was overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of support she received as she was working on her path back to the stage. 

"In the midst of it there was a huge outpouring," said Watts. 

Watts said she thought she was "out for the count" when she first tried getting back into preforming. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

But what stood out for her were the people who kept supporting her months after the accident.

"I had people reaching out and checking in... It was really beautiful, I felt very loved," she said.