A young girl’s poem in the wake of her dad’s suicide touched a chord deep in Tommy Rice’s heart. Now, this award-winning songwriter prays the song he spun from her words will reach other fathers.
His ultimate hope is to prevent suicide in men struggling with depression, addiction and other demons, direct them toward the support they need to heal, and lead them back to their families’ loving embrace. He wants to remind them of the worth of their lives, the love of their children and the key place they hold in those young lives.
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States and ranks even higher for men, who are more likely to use deadlier means.
Addi Giles was only 10 when her father’s overdose robbed her of a future with him. Her poem “Daddy Come Home” concludes with, “My heart is a puzzle that has yet to be done/With one missing piece/My dad is gone.” Stirred by the ache and longing in Addi’s words, her mom shared it with Rice, cousin of Addi’s grandfather and a songwriter still new on the Christian country music scene. With Addi’s permission, Rice built on her words for the recording “This Song Is for You, Daddy.”
“We feel like this song would really touch people’s hearts because suicide is so common now, especially in America,” Rice said. “Playing that song would hopefully help a father who is thinking about suicide, and change his mind. I wrote it that way, for people to realize what they’re missing out on, and what they’re doing to their family.
“A lot of kids are facing this now. Their fathers leave and go into a depression and keep to themselves, They don’t understand why they can’t see them anymore. It’s devastating to the family.”
Rice understands the situation better than most. Following the death of his beloved wife Deborah of cancer in early 2019, he became almost a recluse. “I was beyond lost, depressed, in a dark tunnel with no light in sight,” he said. “I know how these people feel.”
Suicide didn’t enter his thoughts, but he felt a strong pull to be with loved ones he’d lost. His counselor in a grief recovery class urged him to channel the feelings into a story. Rice’s story moved his class to tears. A fellow class member suggested he make a song of it. So, he did.
Rice found a studio to handle details of the music, help find a singer and record “Miss Her More Today Than Yesterday.” The experience launched a new path for the Raymond, Mississippi, real estate broker and auto dealership owner. Rice lined up an entertainment attorney, Loggins Promotion and Mansell Media, and plunged into the newfound passion. “I prayed about it and God seemed put these people in my life, and it started happening,” he said. “Songs started coming all the time.” His current song count tops 200, with 84 recorded.
With less than two years in the business, Rice won the New Music Award for Country New Group of the Year 2022 with a song featuring Patricia Barrett (also the singer for “This Song Is for You, Daddy”). His new single “My Momma Loved Me” went to No. 1 on Independent Music Network’s Country Top 30 Countdown this May.
“What saved me was the music,” Rice said, recalling his own dark tunnel of grief. Now, he hopes this song can help save others, and prevent the heartache suicide leaves behind.
For the song and video “This Song Is for You, Daddy” on YouTube, click here.
For suicide prevention resources, click here.
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YouTube: Tommy Rice - YouTube
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