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“An Essential Song: The Creation of an Award-Winning Book through the Collaboration of Author Amy R. Saltz and Illustrator Mike T. Cherry”

December 11, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Come hear about the fascinating process of an author and artist working together to produce a book that communicates its message equally by means of words and images.


For the author, Amy Saltz, there was courage in giving voice to a very personal journey. For the artist, Mike Cherry, courage took the form of using color, when his preferred medium was the black and white of pencil drawings.


The result of both contributions is more than the sum of the two individual creations; it is a powerful and poetic story of hope triumphing over struggle and pain.



An Essential Song has received the following recognition and awards:
2018 Living Now Bronze Award Winner for Grieving/Death & Dying
2019 Montaigne Medal Finalist
2019 First Horizon Award Finalist
2019 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for Grief
2019 Eric Hoffer Award Honorable Mention Winner for Spiritual


Longtime Marblehead resident Amy R. Saltz wrote An Essential Song from an outpouring of gratitude for healing that had been sought for decades and found in a way never imagined possible by the author–through loss. Amy yearned to do something to offer thanks as well as hope, so she wrote this metaphorical story of love, loss, reclamation, and healing.


As a young person growing up in Marblehead and Swampscott, Amy tried to reach out for help but felt invalidated. Deep shame and depression caused her to try to take her life. She suffered severe burns to her mouth and lost most of her tongue. She was told she might never be able to talk or eat by mouth and would be institutionalized for life. Instead, she re-entered life, taught herself to talk and eat (although it’s difficult and limited), and began the search for connection. Love emerged, as did death. It was working through loss that brought her the healing she’d been longing for since youth.


Her own experience of living with handicaps prompted Amy to embrace Illustrator Mike Cherry’s attentive dedication to her project even though he cannot see color. The illustrations are beyond expectation and represent triumph of the human spirit. The illustrator has painted vividly colorful renditions without the ability to see color, and the author is singing An Essential Song without a full tongue!


“Nazife and the Cherry Cup” by Mike Cherry


Mike T. Cherry is a self-taught artist specializing in pencil portraits and illustrations. In a world of digital art and virtual images, Mike practices his profession with pencil and paper and creates vibrant portraits in the traditional way. The subjects of his work range from people and pet portraits to landscapes and even industrial settings, military themes, and machinery. Mike feels that art should be beautiful and uplifting to the soul. His favorite subjects are human beings, focusing on nudes and figurative creations. Read more about Mike Cherry in the Artist Exhibit section above.


December 11, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Meeting Room
235 Pleasant Street
Marblehead, 01945
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