Frank Barham Says The Music Is In His Soul

by Allison

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six year old Frank Barham is living his dream. Frank has learned that a musician never stops learning and never reaches the pinnacle. Jazz is a never ending journey of study; trying to become better, and learning to share your feelings through the music you play. Part 4 of a 5 part series.

Music was the center of my life, even when I worked other jobs. From time to time, I took lessons from different people and kept playing, but I really didn’t have the time I needed to practice and focus on music the way I wanted. I had to deal with a new and very unfamiliar set of challenges in my life. From the challenges of my new body, the prejudices I found in the workplace to my own personal insecurities, I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of the change in my life.  I think that the reason I’m still alive is because of music. I don’t think I would’ve gotten through the early days of my injury without music and the people it brought into my life.

Music was always the center of Frank Barham's life.

Music was always the center of Frank Barham

Early after my injury, 1980 through 1985, I met several inspirational musicians in Durham, North Carolina. I met Bus Brown, Frankie Alexander, Brother Yusuf Salim, Scott Sawyer, Eve Cornelius, Ed Paolantonio, Rich Robeson, and Chip Crawford who were very supportive of me. I really had a problem dealing with the prejudice I encountered as a person in a wheelchair back then. These musicians not only helped nurture my love for music, but they made me feel like a normal person at a time when I was struggling with my new self image and how I fit into the world.  I felt like they looked past my wheelchair to see the man I was, not the image I was afraid I had become.

Frank Barham spends his days practicing and goes to bars and clubs at night to sit in with other musicians.

Frank Barham spends his days practicing and goes to bars and clubs at night to sit in with other musicians.

At that time, I was not only beginning a new life as a person in a wheelchair, I was also beginning my studies as a musician. Music was not going to be my source of financial support.  I struggled, like so many others, to balance what was required to earn a living with spending time practicing. After many years of practicing and saving, I am now pursuing music full time.  I feel incredibly fortunate to be at this moment in my life.  I’m grateful that I chose to continue living.  I’m doing what I love to do every day. Daylight hours are spent practicing and at night I go out to various clubs and sit in with other musicians.

Check out Frank Barham live on the harmonica at Northside Tavern in Atlanta.

 

Next: What’s Next For Frank Barham

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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