On May 14, 2020, Charlie Ternan was sold a fake Percocet made of fentanyl—within 30 minutes of taking it, the 22-year-old was dead, just three weeks before his college graduation. Now, for the one-year anniversary of his passing, the 501c3 non-profit his parents founded—Song For Charlie—is putting out an album clad with moving tributes to Ternan. Titled Songs For Charlie: Volume 1, the Bandcamp-exclusive record is set to drop on May 14 and will feature Jack Symes, Christian Lee Hutson, Wilsen, Johanna Samuels, Ohtis and more covering Ternan’s favorite songs.
Videos by American Songwriter
“I was immediately drawn to this project as someone that has lost multiple loved ones in my life to suicide and struggled with the many weights that come out of loving an addict,” Samuels said in a press statement. “With fentanyl, our country has swiftly and heartlessly raised the frequency with which Americans are quite literally killed for profit. My heart breaks for the many struck by these tragedies. The songs on this record all strike chords with me as ones I grew up with… I’m honored to be a part of such a beautiful project.”
Featuring covers of Nirvana, Green Day, Frank Sinatra and more, Songs For Charlie is an emotionally potent album, but not a dreadfully sad one. Through contemplative arrangements and heartfelt performances, a more nuanced type of celebration is reached—one where the tragedy of loss and the beauty of life walk hand-in-hand. Yet, perhaps the highlight of the record is its one original song: “Song For Charlie,” penned by Symes, a dear friend of Ternan’s.
“I wrote ‘Song For Charlie’ the day that Charlie passed in May 2020,” Symes said. “Immediately after hearing the news. I was in North Carolina staying with my girlfriend’s family and I just isolated myself out on their dock for the day with a notebook and guitar. Even though I was surrounded by her amazing family, I felt really alone and far from home. I think writing the song that day was the only kind of therapy I could get into since I was so far from anyone that knew Charlie. I recorded it the following day and sent the demo to Charlie’s family and a couple close friends, and that too was a really difficult thing to do. It was all just a very overwhelming time, but I know that song provided some comfort and emotional release for so many who knew Charlie, including myself.”
And now, with the release of Songs For Charlie: Volume 1, Symes and everyone else involved in this project can provide comfort and emotional release for countless people across the country dealing with similar tragedies. And with all of the proceeds going towards the Song For Charlie nonprofit—which aims to spread awareness about the dangers of fake pills made of fentanyl—this music not only honors Ternan’s life, but might actually save the lives of others just like him.
Song For Charlie is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about ‘fentapills’ — fake pills made of fentanyl. Learn more about them HERE. Listen to Jack Symes’ song, “Song For Charlie,” below: