By Sue Austreng
Growing up struggling with depression and anxiety, dark days and fearful nights outlined the battleground for a young Eric Gordon.
The journey was jagged, sharp with wounds he felt might never heal. Pouring his thoughts onto sheets of music, expressing his loneliness in sharps and flats, gasping in fear and repeating desperate chords of impossible hope, Gordon released those demons and began to heal.
And from that voyage “Fly” emerged.
“I was diagnosed with both depression and anxiety disorder in 2012. I wrote ‘Fly’ about my journey to find hope amidst suffering with these conditions,” Gordon, a resident of Maple Grove, said last week.
“I want people to know there is hope. There is light. You can fly,” he said.
“Fly” was released worldwide on June 16. That same month, Gordon reached out via social media, searching for volunteers to be a part of a music video for the song, a piece that depicts several different characters on the same journey: to find hope in their struggle.
The response was overwhelming, the singer/songwriter said.
“A unique component to the video is that all of the actors are not only volunteers, but all have struggled with mental illness,” he said.
“Mental illness is your everyday people struggling in silence. That’s what I don’t understand — why are we so quiet when it’s way too common? Why are we afraid to share, to tell someone what’s going on?”
“That’s my goal with ‘Fly.’ To get it out there, to establish community because I believe that with community there is healing. You’re not alone,” Gordon said.
Gordon also said he hopes to team up with National Alliance for Mental Illness and other mental health organizations to promote the “Fly” music video.
But first, that video was released and broadcast for the first time during an Aug. 15 Backyard Concert in Blaine.
You see, to demonstrate hometown support and to offer Gordon a “chance to get up close and personal” with his fans and supporters, the Bentgarmicha family of Blaine hosted that Backyard Concert for the singer/songwriter.
Jeanne Bentgarmicha is one of Gordon’s fellow journeymen, struggling with depression and anxiety and having been in “a very dark and disturbing place in my life. I was lost. I had no idea what I was here for. I could not even love myself,” she said.
And then she heard Gordon sing during a worship service at Eagle Brook Church in Spring Lake Park.
“That turned the entire way I thought about myself around,” Bentgarmicha said. “Music was a healer to me. ‘Fly’ inspires hope, and shines a light on mental health …. To be the light to those who suffer is an amazing thing.”
Bentgarmicha immediately became an Eric Gordon fan and soon established the Fans of Eric Gordon page on Facebook.
Others became fans, too. In fact, Gordon became a nationally-known singer/songwriter when he appeared as a contestant on last season’s FOX television show “American Idol.”
He was the one Harry Connick, Jr. teased about wearing a Members Only jacket to the audition, and then awarded him a “golden ticket” to Hollywood.
“Yep, that was me. Now there’s a Members Only for Eric Gordon fan club,” Gordon said, smiling modestly.
Gordon announced his intentions to audition for the next season of “American Idol” and said he hopes that visibility can help shine the light of hope even further.
“Finding the light symbolizes hope,” he said. “I want to be a voice for those who can’t.”
“Fly” is currently available wherever digital music is sold (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.). To purchase Gordon’s earlier recorded singles and CDs and other Eric Gordon merchandise, and to see his performance schedule, visit EricPaulGordon.com or stop by Facebook and find the “Fans of Eric Gordon” page.