Meet the musicians using song to shed light on opioid addiction and recovery

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 23:33:11-05

RICHMOND, Va. --Tune into WHAN and you’ll know exactly which musical genre Cal Cecil favors, but the classic rock DJ is working new tunes in among the standards - his own.

“Songs are my life. I just love it," Cecil says.

Released last month, 'Today’s the Day' is one of twelve songs on Hope Fiendz; a collection of songs from local musicians like Janet Martin and Susan Greebaum to Cecil.

Lyrics are based on personal stories of hurt and healing from people battling addiction.

“It means a lot to me. I’ve had some struggles myself without getting into too many details,"  Cecil says.

Cecil, a driving force behind the CD, hopes the collaboration will shed more light on the opioid crisis.

“Being able to put something together like this has been amazing. A thrill."

Proceeds from sales benefits Friends 4 Recovery a peer-run wellness facility in Chesterfield.

“One thing we do is have folks regain their humanity at the center,"  Larry Almarode says.

Executive Director of Friends 4 Recovery Larry Almarode hopes the music can curb the epidemic.

“The people we let listen to the CD all relate with it. There hasn’t been a person we’ve let listen to the CD who has come out dry eyed," Almarode said.

Co-Producer Brooke Saunders says the CD saves one people the effort was worth it.

“We try to bring a feeling of hope and recovery to an issue that is grim," says Saunders. “Some are more metaphorical than some but there are others that are raw and you can just imagine how bad it was for some of these people.”

Peer Recovery Specialist Maria Howk knows the pitfalls of opioids too well.

“Drugs took everything from me," says Maria. “I wanted out. I wanted that last hit to kill me because I was miserable.”

Clean for nearly three years Maria struggled with heroin and crack cocaine. The Hope Feindz CD strikes a deep chord with Maria. Especially track 7.

“I cry every time I hear it," Howk said.

The 25-year-old’s story and voice can be heard on “Maria’s Song” which is by musician by Amy Henderson. “Kind of feeling like a rock star right now," Howk said.

Maria says the song’s message reminds of how far she has come after hitting rock bottom. “Its kind of a big deal. A real big deal. Gives me some self-worth."

Back at WHAN, DJ Calvin Cecil is making room on his classic rock playlist for music that is personal and profound - music that is the sound of survival.

“That’s the goal maybe to inspire people and maybe save some lives. Absolutely," says Cecil.

If you’re interested in picking up the new album - Hope Fiendz is available locally at Plan 9 records in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood. The producers of the album are already laying the groundwork for their next production which is an album solely dedicated to suicide prevention.

If you know of someone with an interesting story to tell email me at