Magazine article Addiction Professional

Singing a Tune of Gratitude

Magazine article Addiction Professional

Singing a Tune of Gratitude

Article excerpt

Mike Farris's music defies restrictive labels- Press material describes his Sunday night live shows in Nashville as "rafter-raisin' boogie stew, equal parts honky-tonk spirit and Christian revival." The roots of what he studies and performs are in the music of black churches, but he considers it much broader than gospel.

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Likewise, Farris's recovery eludes a convenient description. He says it was drawn from spirituality and strong social support, but his few experiences with the chain smoking and war stories common to a structured support meeting told him that this wasn't the path for him.

"People come up after every single show and tell me they're in AA or NA," says Farris, 38. "I think it's great. It didn't work for me, but it needs to be there." .

In recovery for four years, the performer who routinely worked while under the influence and fed a "morbid fascination" among his fans in his years as a rock artist (with the Screamin Cheetah Wheelies) has now found broader appeal and critical acclaim. Last fall he was named 2008's Emerging Artist at the Americana Music Awards--he is proud of that honor because he says it reflects the fact that he draws from all original roots of popular music. In addition, Farris's album Salvation in Lights was voted the top CD of 2007 by Christian Music Today.

"When anybody makes the decision to make themselves a better human, God rewards them 10-fold in their quality of life," Farris says.

Destructive path

Farris refers to his history a typical "broken home" story. He started using alcohol and drugs around age 15, and by 21 he says it was pretty much all he did.

He got clean for a while and moved from his native Tennessee to New York, where he signed a record deal but soon resumed his use to an even greater extent. He routinely worked under the influence and no one seemed to mind much.

"The music was a gift to me; I never had to go to school for it or anything," he says. "The real challenge for me was learning how to live. I was scared to death to make the jump and get clean. I just didn't think I had it in me to live without it."

Farris traces his recovery to a trip back to Tennessee for a family funeral. …

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