By now, most of us are aware of the passing of 32 year old country music singer songwriter Luke Bell, who tragically lost his battle with mental illness near Tucson, Arizona.
However, I wasn’t expecting to hear his voice on Martha Spencer’s new album, Wonderland, which was released this past Friday.
The Appalachian singer’s sophomore album, Wonderland displays her influence from artists like Dolly Parton, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard, as well as Lillie Mae, but at the root, it’s an honest reflection about the beauty and the struggle of life in the place she calls home.
But at the same time, the longing for adventure, mystery and joy away from there as well:
“Wonderland is about doing your own thing, an especially salient point for women in Appalachia.
I know folks have been through a lot in the last few years, and I personally have lost some very important people to me.
I see music sometimes as a place to escape some of the sorrows and tragedies and find some joy in a moment of beauty or magic in life: the fantasy, the mystery, and the mystical still alive, a sense of home and place, and yet longing for adventure and travel at the same time.”
Luke sings on two songs for the album, “Banks of New River” and “Hesitation Blues,” the latter of which comes with a live acoustic performance that Martha recently released.
According to an email from her PR firm, Martha’s been in mourning over Luke‘s passing since they were close friends, but she thought it would be nice to share this video of her and Luke duetting.
“I’m so thankful to everyone that played on the album or helped put it out, I feel like recordings can sometimes offer a glimpse of time into some of the people you really love and musical friendships you cherish.
My heart is very heavy with the loss of Luke this week, but I’ll always be thankful for his friendship and his voice on this album and videos.
Here’s “Hesitation Blues” off the Wonderland album featuring Luke Bell, Matt Kinman, and Billy Hurt Jr. Forever love to all the wonderful friends who have been willing to share music with me through the years and I’ll miss you forever Luke.”
The family of the late singer Luke Bell has issued a statement following his untimely death in Tucson, Arizona last week.
In the statement, the family explains that Bell had been battling mental illness for years and that despite the support of loved ones, he was unable to receive the help he needed.
The statement also sheds light on the singer’s struggle with bipolar disorder, which reportedly led him to go missing on multiple occasions.
“Luke suffered from the disease of mental illness, which progressed after his father’s death in 2015. Luke was supported through his disease by a community of loving family and friends. Despite this, he was unable to receive the help he needed to ease his pain.”
Concern with the current systems in place to help people suffering from mental illness was also revealed.
“Our hearts go out to the millions of people affected by mental illness who, like us, understand the devastating disappointment of a system that consistently fails to provide caring solutions to those who suffer.”
Bell’s business manager Brian Buchanan spoke to TMZ about the disease:
“Luke fought this as hard as he could, but the disease got the better of him.”
He continued to say:
“Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It’s something that can happen to anyone no matter how successful they are or how loved they are…It’s a real thing and it’s something we need to talk about more.”
The family asks for privacy in this difficulty time and takes comfort in knowing that Bell is no longer in pain.
“As we navigate our heartbreak we respectfully ask for privacy to allow us room to grieve and honor his memory…Our only comfort comes in the fact that our Luke is finally free and at peace.”