My name is Jennifer Ayers-Moore and I’m the sister of Nathaniel Ayers, better known as THE SOLOIST. My brother is a classically trained musician who studied at The Juilliard School, in New York. You may recall that 10 years ago a movie came out about him and a very kind LA Times reporter Steve Lopez, noticed him playing a violin that only had 2 strings on it. My brother at that time was very ill and traveled all the way from Cleveland, Ohio, to LA to visit our father, who for whatever reason could never accept that my brother was ill, this was after our mother passed in 2000. After he had been there for a few months he ended up on Skid Row, that is a tough place to be, putting it as gentle as I can with respect to the people who are still surviving there. When Steve first met Nathaniel and he will be the first to tell you that he saw it as a good story, but 10 years later he is still a friend to my brother. He first wrote newspaper articles, then a book and the movie came out, which helped to change my brothers life, as well as his own. What people do not understand is that he was ill and his mind set (illness) at that time led him to live on the streets. Our family tried to support Nathaniel the best we knew how, not being familiar with the illness made it very difficult. But our mother fought to learn and get all the information she could to help her only son. I express many of these challenges in my book. I like to write and I am pretty creative, this was so tough for me. I looked for help and everyone wanted a price, I get that. I have paid for a few services that unfortunately did not pan out as I hoped they would. So here I am tapped out, refusing to give up.
Because of the articles, book and the movie my brother was able to receive (for a while) the respect he so deserved and I tell you those were moments I never thought I would ever see. I NEVER thought I would see my brother smile, be happy and even cry. He played for the Americans with Disabilities Act 20th Anniversary, which was held at the White House, where he met President Obama and Patti Labelle, that was an amazing time in his life. He was honored at the The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) national convention, he met people that were so happy to meet him and hear him play. I write so much more about his experiences in my book.
The attention he received from the movie helped change his life and was a catalyst for pushing the topic of mental illness into the spotlight. A lot of good came about because of this and it helped more people see my brother and others like him as people and not just their illness. Unfortunately, the excitement faded down a bit, yet because of all the places I have been able to visit, I know that there are many who still care. The need to keep the conversation going inspired me to write this book. I hope to keep the subject of mental illness alive and let others out there know they’re not alone and that there is help and that they should not be afraid to speak out AND that support is available for the families who have loved ones with a mental health condition.
I was reluctant to do this, but a friend who is familiar with the challenges I have faced in my effort to get this out suggested that I start a "GoFundMe." When you are an advocate for mental health you are often placed in the potion to asked for financial help.
I need help covering the costs to get the book published and out into hands of people who need to be encouraged and my hope is that people can learn from the experiences that my brother had and from what I have learned as his sibling. It is not easy but I am still here, working to help others "Hear The Music."