MAKING MUSIC THE FIBROMYALGIA WAY
By Jeanne Hambleton © 2008
They say fibromyalgia runs in families, but my latest news shows that in one family both music and fibromyalgia research are excited about ‘Hard Times’.
Spanning three generations, a granddad (a very young one), two of his grandchildren and a nephew, are all involved in writing, playing and selling their music for their first CD ‘Hard Times’ to raise funds for research. They hope to find a cure for fibromyalgia for granddad and millions of other fibromyalgia sufferers through research at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. Michigan.
Richard Lee (aka Rick Usher of FMS Global News), Justin (16), Autumn (10) and nephew Tim (29) have been busy in the studio laying down some tracks for their first CD that is dedicated to fibromyalgia and Gulf War Syndrome veterans.
Richard told me, “I am a musician with fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia research is one of the most important things I can think of to use the gift of music for. Where it will go from here I have no idea, but I am ready for whatever develops. These songs are free to download ahead of the CD release that will be in the very near future.
Richard said he had written most of the songs with the exception of Summer Time (a George Gershwin Tribute) and Tobacco Road (a tribute to John Laudermilk the author of the song, and “Simple Man” which is Tim’s contribution as well as a song he wrote called “Believe”.) – both great favourites of his.
“However these are my renditions of these songs and they are different from the originals by a significant degree. The rest are songs I have written and these will be available for fibromyalgia research funding soon on CD or by download,” said Richard.
The band is set up with Rick (Richard Lee) Usher, Lead and Bass Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica, Keyboards: Justin Usher, Keyboards, Guitar: Tim Upton, Guitar, Vocals. The newest member of the group is Rick’s granddaughter, Autumn (10) who is playing piano/keyboards.
Rick said, “After only one lesson she can pick out the melody of all my songs. I am 52, so we have a broad age range (107 years) and we are all related.
“The youngsters are thrilled to be helping me with my fibromyalgia and the research. It gives me a big kick to watch their enthusiasm and their support. They are great kids and I love them to bits for helping me. Their grandmother and their mother, who has FMS, are pretty proud of them too.”
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FM FRESEARCH ACROSS THE POND
Conscious that fibromyalgia is reported to be reaching world wide epidemic proportions, Richard, hopes to introduce the first UK Fibro What CD for downloading when his own Cd is launched. Written and played by Dom Collins, an award winning comedy singer. Dom donated the music with three very funny backing tracks, to help fund UK research. Now the Fibro What CD is being sold ‘across the pond’ to support research funding in the UK. Log on to http://www.domcollins.co.uk/MYSPACE for more details.
PERSONAL HARD TIMES
I asked Richard to tell me something about his fibromyalgia and his driving force.
He said, “My fibro first began to be a major problem when I was about 24, so I have had fibromyalgia most of my life. I was an electronics engineer and finally in my 30’s had to give up my career. I had just bought a home to raise my family and had a new mortgage and I suddenly could not work anymore.
“Somehow with my wife’s support we managed to survive. Staying together and being close as a family is very important when you have fibromyalgia. My oldest daughter also has fibromyalgia, and her son Justin is part of the band.
“The music we play is a bit of everything. Some is blues and jazz and folk and some good old rock n’ roll. I write songs about real life – what I have lived and learned.
“One song that is about my experience with fibro is called “Learning to dance in the rain”. I encourage anyone that has fibro and a MY SPACE website, to add this song to their profile. I’ll have a better version of the song up soon.
RESEARCH SUFFERS IN HARD TIMES
“I truly believe that research into fibromyalgia is at a stage where new discoveries are within our grasp. Sadly with the economic troubles we are all facing today, research funding is not keeping pace with the science we badly need to develop.
“I have met Dr. Daniel Clauw at the University of Michigan and want to support his fibromyalgia research. You may recall that Dr. Clauw was the one that proved fibromyalgia is not “all in our head” and his contributions to fibromyalgia research are well known worldwide.
“We originally planned a benefit concert at Hill Auditorium for Sept 21 of this year but with the economy the way it is corporate sponsors are a bit more difficult to find so the date will most likely be moved back unless we get a miracle. In my world miracles happen often.
“We will soon be producing a CD which will further help raise funds for research and will have a dozen or so songs on iTunes soon that will also benefit research.”
Since another artist already used my last name I go by my first and middle name with the band. Hard Times is the name of the band because everybody knows hard times.”
Congratulations on your achievements Rick, given you have fibromyalgia and a passion to find a cure. Well done to you and your young team. I hope lots of people like your music and help you build up a good fund for research. .
The group hope’s to add other venues and will consider fund raising for cancer research funding in the future’