Schizophrenic songwriter Dai Sharkey show to end mental illness stigma
SCHIZOPHRENIC songwriter Dai Sharkey hopes to use his music to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The Welsh singer/songwriter is due to perform in a free concert at Llanelli's Ffwrnes on Wednesday, October 23.
Entitled Schizophrenic, the show will combine live music with personal stories and memoirs from Dai and other musicians' experiences of living with mental illness.
The songwriter said: "The evening will consist of live music by some of the best talent in Wales as well as personal testimony from both the artists and supporters sharing their lived experiences of mental illness and the associated social obstacles."
A handpicked cast of supporting bands and artists will complement Dai's dark folk music on the evening.
Despite the somewhat serious message, Dai hopes to create the party atmosphere with plenty of crowd participation.
Laying praise on the other acts, he said: "These are some of the best songwriters in the country."
Playing on the night is Mad Toms Crowd, which Dai describes as "eight world music percussionists and instrumentalists that cover an eclectic range of songs".
Also playing is Fasta Benj — a European folk band which the organiser said have "an energetic dance style that gets you on your feet".
And completing the bill, is Bel and the Hangdogs, a folk trio of "audio-acoustic delight".
Explaining the meaning behind the show's bold title, Dai said: "Firstly, the word is provocative and misunderstood.
"Secondly, to desensitise people to using, seeing, and discussing it.
"It's great, I have a lot of feedback from people telling me that they now know how to spell it for starters."
Joking aside, there is a serious message behind Dai's provocation — he has had first-hand experience of living with the stigma associated with mental health problems.
He said: "I have received so much negativity in the past when I've been labelled as schizophrenic."
From immature name calling, to social disassociation, Mr Sharkey said he had experienced it all.
Time to Change Wales, which campaigns to end the stigma of mental health problems, has supported the show.
Its programme manager Antony Metcalfe said that as well as being a night of great music, "Hearing directly from Dai and the others about their experiences of living with mental illness will break through the taboo and start conversations about mental health."
Tickets for the show are free, but numbers are limited.
Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.co.uk.