Having lost two of his friends to suicide, Clayton Bellamy volunteered to perform at a suicide prevention fundraiser in Red Deer next month.
“It’s a cause I’m very passionate about. … When I heard that (six Red Deer students) committed suicide, I just felt this is so serious. It’s quickly becoming an epidemic,” said the Juno Award-winning country-rock singer, who will play on Saturday, June 8, at the Above the Noise benefit at Notre Dame High School.
Bellamy revealed that one of his friends killed himself as a young adult and another ended his life just a few years ago. He was devastated by both needless deaths.
“As people become more ‘connected’ over the Internet, we are becoming more disconnected with our humanity,” he said.
“We need to reconnect with each other on a more personal level. People are struggling and we don’t even know about it. We need to reach out to them more.”
Bellamy was initially asked by graduating Notre Dame students to donate an item to a local suicide prevention auction they were organizing, but he suggested doing a benefit concert instead. The Edmonton resident is now looking forward to performing for a young audience and spreading a positive message of hope.
“It’ll be exciting to meet the kids,” said Bellamy, who recently talked to students from 15 schools in the Northern Lights School District about following their dreams and affecting change.
“The only thing that can change the world is love and people,” according to the straight-talking singer.
While Bellamy won a 2006 Country Recording of the Year Juno for an album by his band the Road Hammers, he mentioned welding pipelines in Fort McMurray for two months last winter to help pay the bills.
The married father of two also holds down a day job as a “morning drive” radio DJ in Edmonton.
“Music goes up and down and I’ve been a lot of things in my life, from chief cook to a bottle washer,” said Bellamy, who feels keeping a foot in the “real world” helps him write more relevant music.
“A lot of times if an artist isn’t really living, if they never change anything, how can they write with any kind of perspective?”
In fact, he makes this statement on his website: “If you don’t stand for anything in your life, then your music won’t stand for anything either.”
His new “heavier” more rock-flavoured album, Five Crow Silver, which is slated for a June 11 release, is loaded with musical contributions from Bellamy’s friends, including Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, Tom Wilson from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Mike Plume, his Road Hammers buddies Chris Byrne and Corbett Fransz, and others.
It’s also full of message songs — from his lament for an American dream killed by a recession in Goodbye America, to his new-found appreciation for the Canadian way of life in Love Lead the Way.
Bellamy explained the prior tune was inspired by seeing friends lose their jobs and homes, due to a nose-diving U.S. economy. This also drove him back from Nashville to Alberta.
The latter song was written after a Road Hammers tour of northern China.
Bellamy admitted he felt “culture shock” at seeing the slums and congestion. “After going to a country that’s completely different than your own, you come home with a new set of eyes (that reveal) how good we have it here.”
His most personal new song is Victim of My Own Compromise. “I had a lot of time to reflect on the choices I’d made while working in Fort McMurray in the oilfield,” said Bellamy, who regrets caving to pressure to do “this or that” to make his music more saleable, or radio friendly.
“I’ll never do that again. I’ll make no compromises.”
Limited tickets for the 7 p.m. all-ages concert at Notre Dame High School are $20 each of $60 for a family of four, and are available by calling the school office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by calling at 403-347-7866. All proceeds will go to graduating students’ services project, which benefits Red Deer’s Suicide Information and Education Services non-profit group.