BROOKSVILLE — For Tim Battersby, it seems a little strange to be at home this time of year.
Normally, he and his wife, Laura, performing as the Battersby Duo, would be out on the road, entertaining young children with their lively songs, witty banter and funny antics. These days, however, find the couple sticking close to their Hill 'n Dale residence, happy to still be creating the kind of tunes that over 35 years have won them numerous industry accolades, including a Grammy Award in 2012.
Ten months ago, it seemed like the happy tunes might be over for good. That was when Tim Battersby awoke one night with a loss of feeling on one side of his body. At first, he shrugged it off. He was more concerned with readying for a trip to New York for a performance the next day. Laura, however, insisted they head to Bayfront Health Brooksville.
Emergency room doctors recognized that Battersby was in the throes of a life-threatening stroke and immediately began treatment to improve his outcome. Fortunately, the effects of the stroke were fairly mild. However, the experience was a serious wake-up call.
"I don't think many people realize just how precious their health is," the 64-year-old English-born musician said. "I was so focused on what I do for a living that I wasn't thinking about what it was doing to me."
Before Battersby's health crisis, the idea of slowing down was never on the couple's agenda. Among the country's bestselling children's music artists, the teachers-turned-musicians have been guests on Sesame Street, NBC's Today Show and have been invited six times to perform at the White House. In 2012, they played more than 250 concerts around the country. And when they weren't on the road, they usually were in the recording studio working on their next album.
"It's hard to disconnect yourself from what you love doing," Tim Battersby said. "We were constantly in motion, constantly working hard. It began to show, but I don't think I was noticing it very well."
Battersby has since made a number of changes in his life. He's eating smarter, exercising and has taken up yoga. Days are spent mostly concentrating on writing and recording songs. The duo's 10th and latest album, A Baker's Dozen, is almost ready for release. Like their previous releases, they are expecting strong sales via the Internet and other independent sources.
In the meantime, Battersby said that he and Laura, 56, have decided that touring is something they will likely postpone until his doctor says it's okay.
"We both miss it greatly," Battersby said. "We miss seeing those faces light up and smile. To me, the beauty of music is its power to communicate. It's a great feeling to see young children following you as you lead them in a tune that is teaching them something. That will always remain special to us."
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.