I’ve been listening to Alfred Banks‘ new record quite a bit this week and it’s made me think about my relationship with my little brother. When I was a kid all I ever wanted was a sibling. I was the only child and at four years old I was becoming tired of it. Don’t get me wrong, I was spoiled up to that point; some of my favorite memories are of my mom and I staying up until 4am playing Paper Boy on the NES.
There was something fascinating to me about having a brother or sister to play with all the time. I don’t know if it was because of me or if my parents wanted another child, but they had my brother nearly five years after I was born (I wanted to name him Alfred Hitchcock; they settled on Daniel). Once my brother was able to walk and talk, I became his idol. He followed me everywhere I went to the point that it annoyed me and I called him, “my shadow”. I used to practice wrestling moves on him and of course I got in trouble for giving him a Tombstone Piledriver. I love my brother and today I’m proud to call him one of my best friends.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have my brother in my life. I don’t know what I would do and that’s what makes Alfred’s new song beautiful to me. Banks was able to take that agony and grief, no matter how bad it felt, and turn it into art. “The Funeral Of Orlandas Banks” is a recreation of the day of his brother’s funeral. Orlandas suffered from schizophrenia and eventually took his own life because of it. Over an upbeat track with a sample from The Beatles “All The Lonely People”, Alfred tells us how much Orlandas meant to him while addressing that he may also be schizophrenic due to genetics.
While Alfred doesn’t suffer from this mental illness, he explores that concept throughout the theme of his upcoming album, The Beautiful, which will be released on March 20th. He’s teaming up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Orleans for the release of this project to help raise awareness of mental health issues in the black community.
Four out of ten people who suffer from schizophrenia attempt suicide with one of those cases fulfilling the act. Mental illness is something that we need to take seriously now more than ever. If you know someone who suffers from mental illness, please check on them. Try to help them as much as you can or get the help they need. If you’re reading this and are thinking about attempting suicide, please don’t do it. The world needs you to help make it a better place. Please call this number or share it with someone who you think might attempt taking their own life: 1-800-273-8255. This is the Suicide Prevention Hotline and it is open 24/7/365. You never know how you can impact someone’s life.