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Bernie's Song

$24,266 of $50,000 goal

Raised by 269 people in 17 months

Dear friends. I want to tell you about a person close to my heart. His name is Bernie and he is my voice student. My name is Essence Goldman and I am a singer-songwriter and voice teacher from San Francisco. About 19 months ago I started giving Bernie voice lessons. Bernie is a talented singer, guitarist and songwriter. After about 3 months of lessons Bernie's voice mysteriously disappeared. At first I asked him about his diet and whether or not he smoked, drank, got enough sleep, and if he drank enough water. He assured me he was sleeping and eating well and not smoking or drinking.  Bernie cleaned swimming pools for a living and after some trouble shooting we came to suspect he had chemical poisoning from working with chlorine chemicals for a living. After several months of intensive detox treatment under the guidance of a Naturopath doctor, Bernie saw no improvement. In fact, his symptoms worsened. He began having trouble swallowing and controlling his tongue and jaw. He also had upper body weakness. Bernie saw a neurologist. The neurologist ruled out chemical poisoning and wanted to test him for ALS. Bernie delayed getting tested for a couple months, but with some encouragement, finally did. The worst diagnosis possible was confirmed. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Bernie is 47. He is a devoted single father to a wonderful 15 year old daughter named Nicole. (I also teach voice lessons to Nicole.) Bernie is one of the most down to earth and generous and kind hearted people I have had the pleasure to know in my lifetime. Originally from Danville, Pennsylvania, Bernie was an athlete for his whole life. He played soccer from the 5th grade through freshman year of college. He was a surfer and a high school and Collegiate wrestler.  Bernie can't surf anymore. He also can't play guitar. In fact, he had to stop working for health reasons and sell his guitar to pay his rent.


Some people with ALS have been known to beat the odds and live for decades. Unfortunately, the type of ALS Bernie has been diagnosed with is the most aggressive form. It is called Bulbar onset. It is characterized by the symptoms originating in his upper body and working their way down to his lower limbs. Bulbar onset ALS has a prognosis of 3 years from when symptoms present. Bernie symptoms presented over 18 months ago. He can't swallow. He can't control his jaw or tongue. He drools uncontrollably. He is growing weaker everyday. He walks very slowly now and has lost much of the use of his fine motor skills in his upper body. He hasn't eaten solid food since January 2017. He drinks shakes but has an incredibly difficult time getting them down because he can't swallow. He can't drink water. He has lost almost 40lbs. He is scheduled to get a feeding tube.

Somehow, miraculously, Bernie has kept his spirits up. He is looking towards new drug trials and stem cell therapies. Bernie has an amazing perspective and optimism. In addition to his focus on health research, Bernie has kept creating. He has been writing lyrics prolifically. 

Our voice lessons have now evolved into something different because Bernie's voice has not returned. (It's been gone for over a year now. ) Bernie has asked me to put music, melody, and chords to his lyrics to complete the songs he hears in his head. Together we wrote a song called "Simon's Hero." It's a song Bernie wrote for his daughter's future children that he will likely not live long enough to meet. The lyrics are his advice for living a good life, and his view of the world. He wrote this song for his future grandchildren so they will know who their grandfather was when he is no longer here. Since Bernie can no longer sing or play the guitar, he asked me to compose the melody and guitar chord progression. We recorded it 2 weeks ago. I am singing the lead vocal and his daughter Nicole is singing harmonies. My longtime friend and acclaimed producer Daniel Berkman produced the recording. I am posting lyrics below.

I have never known anyone in Bernie's specific situation but I can relate to the tragedy of a father and daughter losing eachother because I lost my own father, who I was very close to, ten years ago to pancreatic cancer. Bernie and Nicole are very close. To say this circumstance strikes a nerve is an understatement. I feel compelled to help Bernie and Nicole. Originally, I had the idea to help Bernie raise funds for he and Nicole to have some special times together while he is still able to walk. I thought perhaps they could take a trip together. But Bernie said no. He didn't want that.

Bernie's wish is to make an album of his songs. Even though he can't sing or play the guitar anymore he has written lyrical content for countless songs.  His words are honest. Heartfelt. Wise. Witty. Deep. I've been working on putting together a creative team to bring Bernie's songs to life. Under Bernie's direction, I'd like to help him raise funds to make this dream come true -- as well as help him with his practical needs.

Bernie has a clear musical vision. He wants to record analog. He communicates the parts he hears in his head by writing on a dry erase board.

Acclaimed producers Daniel Berkman (My longtime collaborator and producer) and David Simon Baker (Jackie Greene, Nicki Bluhm, Los Lobos) and myself are interested in helping Bernie make this album. Roger Rocha, famed guitarist, songwriter, producer of The Goldenhearts and 4 Non Blondes is also in.  Bernie's daughter Nicole will sing some of the vocals. We are all willing to donate time but there are still realities of paying for studio time and babysitters and basic living expenses so we can survive and not have to take other jobs to pay bills while we prioritize and focus on Bernie's music, NOW. 

Short of a miracle, Bernie doesn't have a lot of time. This disease is progressing rapidly. We want to help him make this record while he still can. It will give him something to focus on besides his deteriorating health. Making this record will fullfill Bernie's lifelong musical dream. And music heals the spirit in times of uncertainty and distress. I cannot think of a better way to spend the rest of his time on earth.

Bernie will need accomodations while recording because he lives in Santa Cruz and the studios we will work in are in San Francisco and Marin County. He can't drive that far in his condition.

If there are any monies leftover after completing the record, they will go to Bernie's living and medical expenses, and his daughter Nicole.

We have already reserved studio time beginning the week of 7/24, because there is no time to waste. 

Please donate what you can! Help Bernie make the album he has been dreaming of! All donors will receive copies of the recordings.

Your generosity will be deeply appreciated by Bernie and his family. 

Thank you on behalf of Bernie and his daughter Nicole. 

Essence Goldman
www.essencemusic.com


"Simon's Hero"
Copyright Bernie Dalton 2017

Know that I loathe those who care about cool
Know I disdain trends and those who thrive on 'em
Know I can't stand the masses manipulated, processed and packaged
Know that I loathe the shallow people who assume
And you need to know the one's who ca don't always do

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know that I loathe the self centered modern man
Know that faster isn't always the answer
Know I can't stand this conditioned response of
me in front of you, I don't even care about you
And know that hardship is endured for a reason
You need to know it lasts so long so we never forget
Know it's not divine punishment dealt with a heavy hand for a moral debt

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know sometimes bad happens to a good man
Know to fight upstream against the mainstreem for what you believe in
Know I've seen unconditional love from both ends
It's the only true measure of a great man

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero

Know love will take her sweet blessed time
Know she may not be the one you've been dreaming
Know every situation, all probable outcomes 
Hold love at the center of it all
Hold love at the center of it all
And you can never be wrong

My contrived echos all lifted
Simon's Hero is gifted
Hovering back at zero


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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..

Enjoy!!!

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

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/02/663422289/bernie-and-the-believers-feat-essence-tiny-desk-concert?ft=nprml&f=1039&fbclid=IwAR3Fo3im0GWTPK6J22BDvJtlD5L-6qZCab8fbYg6xTsQW_30KjmFKEduYpI

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


www.essencemusic.com
www.BernieAndTheBelievers.com
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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
For Location + Tickets Go To:
SofarSounds.com/Cities/NYC/Events/20811

Friday October 19 Danville, PA
TWO HOMETOWN SHOWS
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.

PLEASE DONATE HERE!
https://www.gofundme.com/bernie-and-the-believers-on-tour

With Love,

essence, Bernie & The Believers

www.BernieAndTheBelievers.com
www.essencemusic.com
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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,
essence

DONATE HERE:
https://www.gofundme.com/bernie-and-the-believers-on-tour
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Dear Friends,

I'm thrilled to tell you that Bernie & The Believers have been invited to perform a highly esteemed
Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. on Tues, October 16!!! We need your help getting funding to travel there and back. We are launching a new Go Fund Me today to keep Bernie's Dream Alive by sharing his music far and wide while at the same time raising awareness for ALS in hopes that a cure can be found for this awful disease. Your kindness and generosity made this album possible and you have also made it possible for Bernie to receive the ALS specific care that his advanced condition requires. We thank you from our hearts. We would be deeply grateful if you would make a DONATION to this new campaign today to help us keep this train going by bringing Bernie's music to Washington DC (and beyond) to perform a live filmed set for an official Tiny Desk Concert. We will be doing a full week of East Coast dates bringing Bernie's songs to his hometown of Danville, Pennsylvania and beyond. Please help us keep Bernie's dream alive and take Bernie & The Believers on the road for an East Coast Tour!

DONATE here:
https://www.gofundme.com/bernie-amp-the-believers-on-tour
Here's the full story:

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. It is a huge honor for me to sing these songs.

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

www.essencemusic.com
www.BernieAndTheBelievers.com
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