Blues vocalists Angel Forrest – Talented and world-renowned artist Angel Forrest, one of the most powerful contemporary blues vocalists around, has released a very moving video dedicated to her late cousin Billy Ford. As well, she will soon be launching the ‘Billy Ford Fund for Suicide Prevention – with an annual ‘motorcycle run’ to help raise money towards it. William (Billy) Ian Ford, a fourty-nine year old Montreal man who disappeared in April of 2018, was found a month later in the Saint-Lawrence river. He suffered from severe depression and had sadly taken his life. Angel’s song ‘The Blame Game’ from her latest album ‘Hell-bent With Grace’, is dedicated to him and she honours her cousin with powerful ‘grace’ and meaning. The song is about mental illness and is retrospective of her own life and relationships with the rest of the world. She wrote the synopsis of the video relying on the joy he gave her and the trust they shared – and his ‘joie de vivre’.
Billy was an avid motorcyclist and loved riding his Harley. The idea for the Fund came about in early November when ‘Hell Bent with Grace’ was released. She was performing a private show for ‘The Free Chapter Lanaudiere’. They are part of a global group of bikers with more than 1,000,000 members – united by ‘respect, freedom and fraternity’ and of course their Harley-Davidsons.
“I presented the new video for the single ‘The Blame Game’, dedicated to my cousin Billy and his love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles,” she said when I spoke with her. “I was sitting next to the Captain (of the Chapter) at dinner and after he saw the video he expressed his appreciation for the exposure it gives for suicide prevention. He then explained what the Free Chapter does… he asked if I had a cause or favourite charity they could raise money for. That’s when I got the idea to start The Billy Ford Foundation.”
“Billy influenced me to write ‘The Blame Game’,” she added. “To me Billy was always so kind and generous… with his time and his love. He had such kind and hopeful eyes. Not knowing he was in so much pain… I’ve come to realize that one never knows what’s behind a smile. The song talks about how we feel when we’ve lost someone to suicide, how we blame ourselves for not seeing the pain, then we blame the person for not asking for help or speaking of their pain. The Harleys were a must… the camaraderie amongst riders and the loss felt by so many… it’s a shock when you have no idea someone close to you is in so much pain and it ends in suicide. There needs to be more talking about this subject, and more importantly, we need to listen more attentively.”
His sister Dawn Ford said, “So much pain comes up from his life. As a baby, he was so loveable and shared a room with me. My Baby Billy. He grew up to be tall, good-looking and also loved music and baseball. He had an amazing sense of humour and loved kids a lot… loved his nieces and nephews so much. He was a big guy and kicked ass too… ‘crushing’ anyone that would go near Mantra (her daughter) or any of his female friends. He stood up for them against bullies or predators.” Since 2007, Dawn took care of Billy when he wasn’t well, as his mother lived in Calgary. “I was his advocate… I loved that kid.” The ringer on her phone now has the sound of a Harley starting up.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 300 million people affected – according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is ‘different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year’. The motorcycle run (‘Ride de Kilt’) benefiting the Billy Ford Foundation for mental health and suicide prevention will take place June 13th in Lanaudiere area. An international collaboration could take place as well.Do take a moment to watch ‘The Blame Game’ video and ‘Please share if you know someone who might be struggling with depression. It could change their life… RIP William Ford’, as Dawn wrote on her Facebook page.