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Songwriter's Refrain: Spirit moves her

| Sentinel Staff Writer
March 13, 2008

For most of her life, Kathy Cochran's only musical talent was turning on a radio.

She couldn't sing or play a musical instrument, and she never could have dreamed of writing a song, since she doesn't read music.

All that changed with a dream.

After that, the music started rolling out. Now there's a song, a CD and even talk of a movie based on her story. Cochran says it's all a gift -- from her dead brother-in-law.

The song that changed Cochran's life was the fifth she received. And along with the music, she said, came knowledge.

"Just as I knew the sun would rise in the morning, I knew the song would be brought to life and would be heard around the world," she said.

"And just as this song allowed me the use of senses I never knew existed, it allowed me a glimpse of understanding how life and love continue to exist, always."

The story of the song starts one morning in January 2005, when the Longwood woman woke up and told her husband, Mark, she had dreamed about his twin brother, Craig. That was almost a year to the day after Craig Cochran was killed in a crash with a train. To her amazement, her husband told her he also had dreamed that night about his brother.

Soon after, melodies began awakening Cochran in the middle of the night. She remembers getting out of bed about 2 a.m. and yelling at her husband to turn down the volume on the television.

"I could hear everything, from the beating of the drums to the playing of violins, right down to a male performing vocals," she said.

The TV wasn't on.

She couldn't ignore the music that was coming to her, so she started writing down the words and singing the words and melodies into a tape recorder.

"Each song was a different genre of music," she said. There was rock, country, a dance song and -- the strangest of all -- rap.

"Mark and I joked that Craig was giving me those songs because he was very much into music when he was alive," she said.

"But when the fifth song came, there was something different about it," she said. "It was like I was hit by extremely strong emotions.

"I knew the song would be recorded. I knew the song was coming from a higher place, a higher power. I became obsessed."

Emotions brought tears

Just thinking about the song -- "Until We're Together Again" -- would bring tears to her eyes.

"I couldn't focus on anything else for the next four months. The melody came, the words came and extreme emotion accompanied it all. I would wake up from a sound sleep in the wee hours of the morning, tears streaming down my face, because I could feel what was being conveyed."

She began telling friends and relatives about the song. "I had a lot of people make fun of me," she recalled.

But that didn't deter the 35-year-old sales worker. She forged ahead with plans to record the song, dipping into her retirement account to fund the project.

Along the way, she learned of Bill and Judy Guggenheim, authors of Hello From Heaven, a book about "after-death communication." She placed a call to the couple, who also live in Longwood.

It didn't take Bill Guggenheim long to accept Cochran's sincerity. He is convinced her song is a message from beyond the grave. His book contains more than 350 firsthand accounts of such experiences, which he said typically last less than a minute. Cochran's communication is like none other Guggenheim has heard of.

"It's the first after-death communication, that I know of, that is expressed in music," he said.

"I think it's very, very touching -- very beautiful," Guggenheim said. "The song touches people's hearts very deeply."

Collaboration by intuition

After working with a musician to write the music, "based on my terrible singing," Cochran had a demo version of the song recorded.

That recording led her to music producer Charlie Bertini.

"Kathy being a non-musician, she did not know what she wanted," Bertini said. "I put together a CD of different kinds of singing. It's great that she's not a musician; she just goes off her intuition."

Then Bertini sent Cochran a CD of songs performed by Tiffany Coburn, featured soprano for "Voices of Liberty" at Disney's Epcot.

Cochran sensed immediately that Coburn was the right person for the song, and Bertini put together a recording session.

For Coburn, 40, the session turned out to be "one of those real awesome surprises," the Clermont resident said.

"I think it is a beautiful song," she said. "People I have played it for have been completely moved by it."

CDs, music boxes, even urns

Cochran put the song on her Web site, SpiritLyric.com, where anyone can play it without charge, but she immediately started getting requests to purchase the song. She since has sold more than 2,000 compact discs.

Music boxes that play the song also are available, and cremation urns soon will be offered with it.

Hundreds of people have left comments online about how the song touched their lives and got them through troubled times.

Cochran is about to sign a contract for the movie rights to her story, something that could lift the song to new heights. She already knows just the right person to play her if the movie becomes a reality: Sandra Bullock.

All of this, she says, came from a dream.

"There's no way I can prove this song came through me spiritually," Cochran said. "Only the listener of the song will know in their heart if they feel a spiritual connection."

Gary Taylor can be reached at gtaylor@orlandosentinel.com or 386-851-7910.

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