Joyce Dunn breathes new new life into Jane McNealy’s ‘classic Turn Away From Darkness’

Originally written and released in 1969 by the legendary songwriter and musical prodigy Jane McNealy,‘Turn Away From Darkness’ (TAFD) is a timeless retro-soul song that’s been newly re-released with vocals by the supremely talented Joyce Dunn.

The song, released on the 28th of August, has been made over by Joyce Dunn under LoFlo Records, but this time with a gospel twist. Due to an unfortunate loss in his battle with cancer, TAFD is sung in memory of her mentor; the late composer, arranger and performer Harold Battiste Jr. (Oct 1931 – Jun 19 2015) who produced the original ‘Turn Away From Darkness’.

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Dunn’s smooth, buttery vocals perfectly capture the story of triumph and endurance in the face of adversity that the McNealy’s lyrics describe. Her soulful, timeless voice breathes a new life into the song that’s difficult to do with such a well established classic but Joyce Dunn does it with ease.

In the words of Jane McNealy herself: 

“I have written a song about the spirit of hope and the challenge that comes with change. ‘Turn Away From Darkness,’ was released on Mercury Records in 1969. To bring relevance to the present, I have merged this song with a video reflecting society’s eternal struggle to survive conflict and pain. As we face tomorrow, we face ourselves, but the foundation of hope is a flame that burns eternally, guiding us through darkness to peace.”

Reimagined with a contemporary audience in mind, the visuals accompanying TAFD are a heartfelt and moving tribute. The video is filled with black and white photographs some taken by Jane McNealy in the wake of hurricane Katrina and others captured at Black Lives Matter protests by photographers from around the world.

Joyce Dunn’s Turn Away From Darkness did McNealy a word of justice. It’s a beautiful and aptly timed reimagining of Jane McNealy’s soulful classic as well as an emotional tribute to a lifelong friend, mentor and fellow musician. Turn Away From Darkness is a song that still holds the same weight and meaning in current times as it did way back in ’69.


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