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Giving Addicts A Voice

This spring, RAW took its message on the road. The Overdose Awareness Tour featuring Bubba Sparxxx kicked off March 1 in Cincinnati and went on to 14 more cities throughout the country that are among the ones that have been hit the hardest by the heroin epidemic.

“Performing in front of thousands of people is definitely a high in itself,” Heinzelmann says. “It’s better than any drug I ever did.”

Joining Heinzelmann on the tour are RAW artists Jenna Nichole and Joe Nester. Like Heinzelmann, their music is inspired by their trials and tribulations in addiction; the hope they have found in recovery.

DIARIES OF A LOST CHILD

Jenna Nichole is a natural-born performer: There are home videos of Nichole as a toddler belting the Barney theme song into her hairbrush. Whether she was singing the national anthem at a football game, a ballad in the high school musical or a Katy Perry song at an open mic night, Nichole felt at home on stage.

But the stage was also where she could escape her real home. As a daughter and sister of heroin addicts and alcoholics, Nichole could become someone else on stage, someone who didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety and self-harm.

As a teenager, Nichole was in and out of therapy. She grew increasingly angry and withdrawn. When she started drinking heavily, her mom said, enough! “One day, my mom told me we were leaving on a girl’s weekend, and we just never came back,” Nichole says. “My dad and brother were using together, so my mom and I left.”

Nichole got a fresh start. Eventually, her dad and brother, both got clean at a south Florida treatment center. Years later, at the suggestion of her mom, Nichole went to visit her family in Florida.

“I was still skeptical,” Nichole says. “I didn’t want them as a part of my life.”

But when she saw how recovery changed their lives, she was inspired to do the same through music. As an artist with Recovering Artists Worldwide, Nichole hopes to spread a positive message; not only to people in recovery but also the family and those close to them.

“There are a lot of people promoting recovery from the addict’s side,” Nichole says. “I want to say, ‘As a family member, I will never understand where you were at or what it’s like to be in your shoes, but we can support one another, regardless of if I’m in recovery or not.’”

Although Nichole had a vision for the songs she wanted to write, she had never actually written a song before. Her repertoire consisted mostly of covers of pop songs and show tunes. When it came time to work on her first EP for RAW, Diaries of a Lost Child, Nichole would sit and stare at a piece of paper, write one line, scratch it out and give up. There were frequent frantic phone calls to Heinzelmann wondering why he signed her.

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