Keep Bernie's Dream Alive

$5,462 of $6,000 goal

Raised by 114 people in 9 months
Dear Friends,

Bernie Dalton is a songwriter and single father living with Bulbar Onset- ALS (Lou Gerhig’s Disease.) He currently resides in a San Francisco hospital and has a traeceostomy and a ventihilator machine that helps him breath. He has lost all mobility and communicates with his eyes using an eye gaze device, like Stephen Hawking. He has a feeding tube that bypasses his stomach and goes directly to his intestines because his digestion has been compromised by this unforgiving disease.  Before Bernie was diagnosed with ALS, he was my voice student.

My name is Essence Goldman and I am a singer-songwriter and voice coach. Bernie responded to an ad I had on Craigslist, when at 46 years old, he decided to pursue his lifelong dream of making an album of his own songs. After 2 short months of lessons, tragedy struck. Bernie’s voice mysteriously disappeared. Months passed and it did not return. After a series of tests, Bernie received an unthinkable diagnosis. He was given a 1-3 year prognosis. Bernie was a devoted single father to a 15 year old daughter. He was an athlete. And he was an avid surfer. When he lost the ability to speak and sing, he asked me to be his voice.

I gathered a team of talented musicians and together we put music and melody to his words. Bernie produced and directed from the couch signaling thumbs up and thumbs down during the writing and recording process. Last year I Iaunched a Go Fund Me Campaign and funds were raised to make an album of songs that he wrote for his daughter’s future children, that he knew he would likely not live long enough to meet. Songs that express his views of the world, his values, his advice for living for future generations. Through generous support and donations from the community, Bernie & The Believers recorded and released “Connection” in February 2018. The project received national attention and Bernie's story and music was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered  and All Songs Considered. The SF Chronicle published a front page feature story and filmed an emotional documentary.  Your support made this possible!

Bernie & The Believers are thrilled to announce we have been invited to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, October 16! We are planning an East Coast Tour that will include Bernie’s hometown in Pennsylvania among many other stops. Bernie’s image and his lyrics will be projected on a screen in real time from his hospital room behind the band as we perform his songs. We are partnering with the ALS Foundation to bring visibility and attention to this horrible disease that will, hopefully, lead to a cure someday.  It will be an unforgettable musical triumph over ALS.

Bernie and the band need your support to make this trip possible. We have come this far with your support, and we would be deeply grateful if you’d be kind enough to help us keep this train going. There are many expenses in bringing Bernie’s music on the road. Flights, a rental van, meals, accomodations, and modest pay to make it possible for the band to take time off from our other paying jobs. The generous money that was raised in the first "Bernie's Song" Go Fund Me campaign was used to create the amazing album and video that have brought national attention to the Bernie and The Believers project as well as giving Bernie a meaningful reason to keep living. The additional funds raised in the "Send Bernie Home" campaign have provided Bernie with medical care that is not normally available for ALS patients at this advanced stage. It is very important that the tour back East takes place and is well funded. These ongoing events keep Bernie's hope alive and improve the quality of his life.

Despite Bernie's grim prognosis, he has all of his mental and emotional faculties in place. He is a courageous fighter and he presses on. He lives for his daughter and he lives for his music. We want to give Bernie the joy, satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment knowing his music is reaching a national audience by playing a Tiny Desk Concert.

This cause is greater than all of us. In the spirit of healing and music, please give what you can, and please, if you feel moved by Bernie’s courage and music, share this far and wide. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support. We are grateful beyond measure.

With Love and Music,

Essence, Bernie & The Believers
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Dear Friends, 2018 was a year like none other for myself, Bernie & The Believers. I am deeply humbled and proud to tell you that Bernie and The Believers made NPR’s Best Of 2018 Tiny Desk Concerts List (Top 25!)

If you have not yet seen The Bernie and The Believers LIVE Tiny Desk Concert at NPR Headquarters in Washington DC, you can watch it here:


Bernie & The Believers also made The San Francisco Chronicle's "2018 Year In Pictures." What an honor.

This year I learned to love in a way I never have before. It’s the year I learned to sing from my heart in a way I never knew possible. It’s a year that affirmed goodness in the world through community coming together to support a man who decided to make an album of life affirming songs when he faced his own mortality head on. That brave and creative man is Bernie Dalton. The community who made it possible is you. And we thank you again, from our hearts. YOU made this possible. And the musicians who shared their magic moved me more deeply than words can express: Daniel Berkman, Roger Rocha, David Simon-Baker, Jonathan Korty, Bob Regent, Kevin Glaz, Adrienne Biggs, Olivia Norrmén-Smith, Paul Smith-Stewart, Jeff Bordes. I never imagined any of this would be possible. Friends and family, your support has changed the landscape of our lives and I thank you from the depths of my heart.

Bernie is stable and hanging in there. He is receiving excellent care and his father is faithfully at his bedside each and every day. His sisters and brother in law and daughter also visit him regularly and care for him in every way imaginable. Bernie's courage and endurance move me beyond words. The light in his eyes continues to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for everyone who knows him. His immediate and extended family is strong and selfless in their giving and I am honored to know them and hold each of them close to my heart.

Great things are happening over here with completing my own new record as well as records for 2 more of my voice students, and there are more very exciting opportunities in the works for Bernie and The Believers that we will share with you soon. In the meantime, keep an eye out next Thursday 1/10/19: BBC World Service, "Outlook" will be airing a video documentary piece on Bernie and The Believers.

We truly appreciate your continued support and love. Happy New Year to you all! Bring on 2019!

With Love and Gratitude,
essence, Bernie & The Believers
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Dear Friends, It has been the most profound honor of my life to be the voice of Bernie Dalton and I am thrilled to share this most emotional Bernie & The Believers NPR Tiny Desk Concert with you. I visited Bernie at his bedside earlier this week and showed him our Tiny Desk Concert. There was such a depth of feeling between us no words were necessary. Connection through the eyes. Tears flowing. Mine. His. I’ve been thinking about it all week and I had a realization last night. I was Bernie’s voice teacher but he taught me how to sing. I felt something I’ve never felt before singing the songs we created together. I sang for him and it came from my core in a way I’ve never done before. He taught me to sing from my heart. I could not be more grateful. We became something together neither of us could have done on our own. I became his voice and he became mine.

From our hearts..


View Bernie & The Believers Featuring Essence NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Here:


I posted some photos from the hospital visit on my Facebook pages Essence Goldman & essence + on both my Instagram (essencemusic) & Bernie And The Believers (BernieAndThe). Follow us there.. More Behind the scenes outtakes coming soon.
Deep gratitude to all who contributed to the Go Fund Me campaigns, to the brilliant musicians who traveled across the country to bring Bernie’s musical gifts to life Daniel Berkman, Adrienne Biggs, Kevin Glaz, Jeff Bordes, Jonathan Korty, Paul Smith-Stewart, Bob Regent, Olivia Norrmén-Smith, and to our co writer Roger Rocha who helped us birth these songs, and to David Simon-Baker for co-producing and mixing the record, John Cuniberti, to Ari Gold, Ethan Gold, and to all the people who supported us in spirit every step of the way Howard Sapper, Craig Morton, Margaret Cleaver, Amanda Castro, Aidin Vaziri, Manjula Varghese, Greg McQuaid, Dick Wingate, Perry Serpa, Karin Conn, Bob Laul, Alan Wolmark, Rick Bonde, Laura Santos, Kirk Goldberg, Randi and Jim Swindell, and Barry Simons and countless more. And last but not least thank you to Bernie’s incredible family Lena Dalton Sutcliffe, Lisa Wilson, Karen Koons Thomas, Nicole Dalton, William J. Dalton Jr, and to my children who put up with me during this very busy year, and to Ashley Newell Despain for being my rock and helping in every imaginable way. And thank you to everyone I am failing to mention.

This is a victory for us all.

None of this would have happened without community coming together.

You are all amazing and Bernie and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

With Love and Deep Gratitude,

essence, Bernie & The Believers

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Dear Friends,

We are about to kick off our Bernie & The Believers Tiny Desk/East Coast Tour! Flying out TODAY!

The LIVE Tiny Desk Concert taping is Tuesday 10/16 at 1pm EST and will air shortly thereafter. We have a show in NY on 10/18 and 2 shows in Pennsylvania 10/19! Guests are allowed so let me know if anyone wants to attend the live taping at NPR Headquarters in DC. I can’t begin to express how proud I am to be part of this project and what an honor it is to be the voice of Bernie Dalton- sharing his message of courage and love through music. The band has been rehearsing like a mother and we are buzzing with adrenalin and excitement. I’m thrilled to be making music with Daniel Berkman on drums and cello, Jonathan Kortyon keys and organ, Kevin Glaz on guitar, Paul Smith-Stewart on bass, Adrienne Biggs on violin, Jeff Bordes on trumpet, Bob Regent on banjo, and Olivia Normann-Smith on harmonies. I’ve written a statement about the project. It was supposed to be one minute. It’s not. I had a major breakthrough writing it. I read it to the Tiny Desk creator and host Bob Boilin and he became very emotional and didn’t ask me to change anything or shorten it so it remains. I hope I can hold it together when I tell the story at Tiny Desk. Deep breath We were going to do 4 songs but with there’s time considerations so we had to cut one. My personal favorite, but this isn’t about me. It’s about Bernie and his powerful message to us all— and my only wish is to channel him in the most pure way possible.

Our Itinerary:
Tuesday Oct 16 Washington D.C.
NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Guests Welcome for taping.
Message us if you'd like to attend.

Thursday Oct 18 NYC
Bernie & The Believers
For Tickets Go To:

Friday October 19 Danville, PA
Hilltop Bar & Grill
115 Liberty Valley Road
Danville, PA
(Donations Accepted)
7-8:30 & 9-10:30

We actually have a night with no shows... Wednesday 10/17.. If anyone out there on the East Coast would like to host Bernie & The Believers for a house concert let us know! You name the place! Have van, will travel - it would be a blast :)

We haven’t quite met our funding goal yet. In other words, we have enough money to get most of us to the East Coast and back (but not all of us) and not enough to eat or compensate the talented musicians for the time they are taking away from their jobs and families. We are in the final stretch here and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! If you haven’t donated yet— please donate today if you can! And if you already have, please know we are filled with heartfelt gratitude. None of this would have been possible without you. We know it. And we thank you.


With Love,

essence, Bernie & The Believers

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Dear Friends and Supporters of Bernie,

I have spent several full days at Bernie’s bedside in the past week trying to get statements from him for NPR Tiny Desk & The BBC. Both are doing features on Bernie's music and story. It hasn’t been easy for Bernie to communicate using his eye gaze device but progress has been made. We had a wonderful woman named Amy Roman step in to assist. She’s patient, compassionate and kind. An angel. One of the things we asked Bernie was to describe how it felt to surf. He replied: ‘Time stops.’ He became emotional. He misses being in the ocean everyday. But when we spoke of his music and people hearing it now all over the world his face lit up like the sun. Time also stops with music. Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life I feel truly called to share his songs and story of courage through music. I don’t know why this happened or how I got involved to this degree but this feels meaningful to me. I realize if anything had gone differently in my life and my music before this I might not have met Bernie. There are no accidents. So proud to be bringing his music, our collaboration, to the East Coast to play a live filmed concert for National Public Radio's Tiny Desk in Washington D.C. on 10/16! We also have shows confirmed in NYC on 10/18 and in Bernie's hometown of Danville, PA on 10/19. More dates TBA. Flights are booked. Van is booked. Air BnB in DC booked. We are still accepting donations to the ‘Keep Bernie’s Dream Alive’ Go Fund Me to help make this financially feasible. We have not reached our goal yet and would be truly grateful for your help. If you can donate, please do. It is making a difference in Bernie’s life to share his music. It lifts his spirits everyday. ALS is a horrible, unforgiving disease. Perhaps Bernie’s story can help raise awareness and bring more attention and funding to research that will make a difference for others. That is my wish. Thank you all for your continued support.

With Love and Gratitude,

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