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I was in the middle of working on a blog I had been researching for over a week, and something happened which made me abandon it immediately and change course. Scrolling through social media two days ago, I ran across a post from one of my former Young Avenue Sound neighbors. If you have read any of my previous work, you know well the fondness I have for this place and its inhabitants. I am the self-proclaimed “studio mom” as I am a few years older, and already hold the maternal role for four other humans (five if you count my dad who will get into more trouble than the kids). I moved in years ago, following the death of my husband, and while most of them have known each other for many years, I was a newcomer. They welcomed me like an old friend. Needless to say, it is like a home to me.
The individual I was referring to previously was Brennan Villines. Brennan is the ‘coolest’ person I have ever met. I use the word, which doesn’t do him justice, because it best describes one’s first impression when meeting Brennan. From his clothes (he wins best dressed even when dressing down) to his golden retriever ‘Rick’, we have featured on a vlog (Cody Landers), Brennan is like a walking Urban Outfitters catalog model. Aesthetically, Brennan is perfect.
I knew about his struggle with addiction from a conversation and previous posts on social media, and seeing how far he had come and to be able to realize the weight of that journey made him seem more endearing, if that is possible. The post I ran across, mentioned earlier, was Brennan would be on the televisions show The Four the next evening. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic for him.
I am one of those people who found having a cable bill too much with all of the choices of streaming services, and this was the first time I regretted that decision. I caught the performance clips the next day, and they were breathtaking. The day after I found the episode on another platform and watched it in its entirety. When Brennan’s spot finally came up, I (like millions of others who had watched this) almost felt my heart explode for him as he told the world he had been living with HIV. More so, I have witnessed his nature and hearing this was an instantaneous feeling I struggle to explain. You see, not only is he one of the most accomplished musicians in Memphis, he is also one of the most generous-hearted.
Shortly after we met him, my youngest daughter, Twiggy, had a follow-up appointment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for Level II Astrocytoma. The tumor was removed during surgery, but the anxiety of these appointments doesn’t subside. We realize how blessed we have been every time we step foot in this place, but simultaneously every time I always feel like I will get news I can’t handle. I was mid-panic attack as we walked in the Café for lunch before we met with her doctor to learn the results of her MRI. I heard beautiful singing and piano from just out of my sight, but could feel some of the anxiety easing. We bought our lunch and made our way closer to the source of this aural sedative to see Brennan playing his heart out. He volunteers to play regularly here among other acts of altruism around this city.
During his own struggles, he is playing for sick children and devastated families. He is lifting strangers up and making the worst days of their lives seem a little brighter. Brennan isn’t just a celebrity or a contestant on The Four. He is a genuinely beautiful person. I have known him for close to a year and I never knew he was going through what he was because he was the bright spot and cheerful face of Young Avenue Sound. He was the singer with a gorgeous voice and impeccable style. He was Rick’s dad and a damn good piano player. He still is and will always be, and it is apparent that even during circumstances that may cause others to fall apart, he still keeps going. He still opens his heart to spread love and if you know him, you will love him.
Of course, all of us feel he should have had a seat, but we know he will grow from the experience, and go straight to the top. Can’t wait to see him brought back and what he accomplishes in the year ahead.
Memphis' Brennan Villines, Seen on Season 2; Episode 4 of Fox's 'The Four'
Find Brennan's latest music by going to brennanvillines.com.
***DISCLAIMER***We do not own the rights to any music or artists' images on this blog. Ownership and rights of all music or artist images belong to the singers, songwriters or producers featured.