‘More Than Music’: Influenced by personal connections, local concert to benefit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Posted on Nov 28 2018 - 5:50am by Abby Perez

When Tuscaloosa-based jam band CBDB and Oxford’s own Busty Petites play at The Lyric on Friday, their concert will be about “More Than Music.” The event’s organizers and musicians, many of whom have been affected by the suicides of loved ones, said they are glad people will be able to raise awareness about and money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Katie Kaczmarz, The Lyric’s marketing manager, said the event is not only to raise money for the foundation but also to “throw a party that celebrates life” and let people know they are not alone. Kaczmarz lost a good friend last year to suicide, which is a big reason why she wanted to host this event.

Photo courtesy: Lucile Healy

“It was a friendship that I had my freshman year, and we had always stayed in touch,” Kaczmarz said. “He had always been a friend, and it’s weird to see (him gone). … I wanted to use my position (at The Lyric) to help do something for everybody who is experiencing these losses because our community is struggling with all of this happening in the past year and I wanted to do something.”

She said a big reason why she helped organize the event is because all proceeds will be going toward suicide prevention.

Kaczmarz isn’t the only employee at The Lyric with personal connections to the charity.

Hailey Walley, an intern at The Lyric and senior anthropology major, also said this is an important topic to talk about and has been spreading the word about this event. In 2017, Walley’s boyfriend of two years died by suicide.

“He was really involved in the community … extremely smart, straight-A student, absolutely incredible, and it came as a big shock to everyone,” Walley said. “It shows that (suicide) can affect everyone, even the people that seem the most successful.”

With the help of sponsors, including local businesses and Greek organizations, Kaczmarz was able to cover the venue’s costs. She was also able to raise more money, which means all the ticket sales will be going straight to the foundation.

Kaczmarz said she wanted to find a way to bring music into this event and unite people so the community can start a conversation about promoting a positive mental health culture.

“On top of people that we’ve lost, I know so many people who struggle with mental health issues and don’t talk about it or don’t get professional help,” Kaczmarz said. “It’s really scary to me, the state of our community and (the state) our world is in when it comes to mental health and thinking about suicide.”  

During the summer, Kaczmarz booked CBDB and the Busty Petites for the fundraiser. She said that CBDB is an uplifting, happy, funk rock band that college students and adults in the community alike can enjoy.

Kaczmarz said the Busty Petites are very passionate about suicide prevention. When she was putting the event together, she thought about them because they have played benefit concerts like this in the past.

“I’m really happy to have (the Busty Petites) because they are really all for the cause and that is another huge reason why they wanted to play,” Kaczmarz said.

The Busty Petites’ drummer Hall Hastings said mental health and suicide prevention are close to the band members because four of their fraternity brothers were victims of suicide in recent years.

“I don’t think there are many people talking about suicide awareness,” Hastings said.

However, Hastings said that if people were able to talk about suicide on a bigger scale three years ago, then maybe some of the things that have occurred wouldn’t have happened.  

Photo courtesy: Lucile Healy

“We want as many people in the community to be involved because that is the only way to (prevent suicides) and the only way to not lose more lives from our community to suicide,” Hastings said.

Like Kaczmarz, Hastings said the band wants to raise as much awareness as it can and  bring the Oxford community together.

“If we can do something that everyone enjoys doing and also put that kind of influence on (mental health awareness), we just love to be able to do that,” Hastings said.

Walley echoed Hastings and said she loves that people are going to come out to this event and bring more awareness to suicide prevention and mental health.

“I think it’s going to be a really beautiful, cathartic experience for a lot of those families (affected by suicide) who are still to this day going through that grief,” she said.