In April, our wonderful friends at Speak Your Story spoke with members of the national group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to learn about their powerful journeys through violence and tragedy. This is the story of one of their members, Courtney Weaver, a professional musician, and survivor of domestic abuse and gun violence who is using her experience to create public awareness through music.
In January 2010, Courtney Weaver was shot in the face by her boyfriend. A man she loved and, at one point, deeply trusted. But, this is not the story of horror, tragedy and fear that gun violence inevitably brings. It is the story of triumph, inspiration and courage that helped Courtney recover; that gave her strength to undergo thirteen reconstructive surgeries and reclaim her life.
When Courtney was a young girl, she accompanied her musician parents to their live performances and discovered her love of song. It wasn’t long before she was performing alongside her dad at weddings and bar matzahs and eventually headlining her own shows as a blues singer. Courtney was also the lead vocalist in a blues band, but remembers being afraid to put herself out there and perform the songs she wrote. This all changed after surviving what could easily have been a fatal gunshot wound. Courtney recalls her first weeks recovering in the hospital as some of her most inspired days. She wrote songs about her experience and felt empowered to “say what I’m going to say.”
Courtney spend the next five (5) years undergoing numerous reconstructive surgeries and doing physical therapy that would enable her to sing again. Courtney also joined the 594 Campaign that was lobbying for stricter gun control and mandatory background checks before a gun could be purchased. Often working eighty (80) hours per week on the campaign, Courtney felt disconnected from the music that is so much a part of her soul.
In 2015, Courtney decided it was time to get her singing career back on track and started sharing her songs with the local artist community in Seattle, Washington. One of her songs, “Stop the Violence, Start the Healing” caught the attention of a well-known pianist, Josh Rawlings who was recently featured on the Grammy Award winning Mackelmore’s album. He was so impressed with Courtney’s story and her powerhouse voice that he offered to play piano and help her record her next album. His support encouraged Courtney to find a studio and get to work on Paper Tiger, the album she expects to release in Summer 2016.
With this album, Courtney hopes to reshape and reframe the way people talk about domestic violence and gun control. She wants her music to inspire other victims to share their stories without the shame she experienced after being attacked. She hopes to build a strong community of survivors that lift each other up and overcome the fear of being vulnerable in order to connect on the deepest level. For Courtney, music provides a beautiful opportunity to touch people’s lives and she plans to continue sharing this experience with audiences all over the country.