Music is so powerful; it can even touch the soul. Whether you’re creating music or simply listening, when lyrics and melodies are woven together in just the right way, they connect us.
That’s how veteran blues guitarist Clarence Spady describes his own experience with music. Spady fell in love with music as a young child. Ever since, he’s used that love to create a legacy as a musician, songwriter, and advocate for music as a tool in substance abuse recovery.
Spady is the headline performer of The GateHouse’s Surrender Saturday festival on June 11 from 12:00-5:00 pm at the East Petersburg Community Park Amphitheater, 6052 Pine St., East Petersburg. We had a chance to talk with him about his life-long love of music, his recovery journey, and his latest album–”Surrender.”
Q. What made you fall in love with music, especially the blues, at such a young age?
A. I started playing when I was five years old. My dad and uncle taught me how to play music. Both played the blues, so it came naturally to me. My dad was ok, but my uncle was great. Someone should have signed him. I carry many of his lessons with me today.
Q. When did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
A. I always knew I wanted to play music. I got serious about playing when I was in high school. The only time I stepped away from playing was in the early 1990s, after my mom died. Then, I felt pulled back in 1994 and released an album the following year.
Q. You’ve been playing for more than 50 years. How has your relationship with music changed over time?
A. Music has been a catalyst throughout my life. I grew up playing the blues, and I still love it. But I’ve also played jazz and fusion, and I love R&B music. I played gospel for 21 years. It became my signature sound, along with an R&B side. So, I’m pretty universal in my appreciation for and interest in playing music that inspires me and others.
Q. You’ve spoken publicly about your struggle with addiction. What role does music play in your recovery?
A. Music is my life. I couldn’t give it up, even when it tested my recovery. Music is the place I go in times of sadness and sorrow. Music was there to comfort me and bring me back to reality. It’s cathartic – it pulled me through. If I can modify a Ray Charles quote, my ongoing recovery includes times of “me and my guitar.”
Q. Your new album, Surrender, explores your personal story of addiction and recovery. How did your battle with substance abuse ultimately inspire this album?
A. Surrender is all about the struggles of addiction. It’s based on my addiction, my struggles with drinking and drugs, and my recovery. Over time, my music became more spiritual. I try to live my spiritual self in everything I do now. I had an awakening – it was a good feeling. My new album, Surrender, is my most spiritual project yet. I wrote the title song after an AA meeting held in a local church. The theme of that day’s meeting was “surrender to His will.” It became the name of the song and the album.
Q. What words of encouragement or advice do you have for others struggling with addiction?
A. When my addiction became public, people worried about me continuing to play live music. They didn’t believe that I could go to a bar or club, just play music, and leave. But I believe strongly in being spiritually fit. I think once you get over the hurdle, you can do anything.
I’ve relied on addiction recovery and treatment centers multiple times. Recovery is an ongoing battle, but my advice is to never give up. No matter how many times you fall, dust yourself off. No one can predict when it will stick. Don’t lose sight of hope.
For details about the Surrender Saturday festival, visit our Surrender Saturday Event Page. Join us on June 11 to enjoy musical performances by Clarence Spady and other artists, games, fellowship, food trucks, and more as we come together to celebrate and support our recovery community.
The GateHouse is here to support you or your loved one. We offer substance use disorder treatment services for long-term recovery, with locations throughout Lancaster County, PA.
The GateHouse offers a continuum of care, which includes outpatient support, transitional living, case management services and/or residential treatment for individuals seeking recovery.
Let The GateHouse help you with your next step in recovery. Reach out to us today!