Music proves to be salvation for Austin Whitely

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By Mary Barczak

 SHEPHERDSVILLE--Even though he only started playing guitar at 14, Austin Whitely has always been an artist at heart. And it was gift that helped him battle through some of the darkest years of his life seven years ago.

In 2007, Whitely’s brother, Dylan, died which led to his “downward spiral.” He dropped out of school, spent time in jail and overdosed on drugs 15 times.

“I couldn’t cope with what was going on,” said the Shepherdsville resident. “I wanted to be numb and didn’t know what to do with myself. I filled that hole with drugs and alcohol for four years.”

 After a court order, Whitely checked into The Healing Place in Louisville for rehab in 2011 and it was during that time he began composing songs for his first CD, “Greatest Hits Vol. 3 & 4” on his “journey to recovery.” The album is dedicated to Dylan.

“Towards the end of the program I was allowed to have my guitar and I would go downtown by the river and sit in a secluded area where I would write songs,” Whitely said.

While in rehab,  the 26 year-old said he thought about his purpose in life.

 “I should have died numerous times, but something kept me alive, “ he said. “I just have to keep taking steps forward.”

It took Whitely about two years to complete the CD. He described the tone of the CD as happy and philosophical. And the genre is mostly alternative rock and funk.

 “This is what makes me happy so I’m going to do this,” Whitely said. “The drug addiction took that over for awhile.”

Whitely mixed, recorded and mastered all of the songs in his home studio. Another local James Wilson designed the layout for Whitely’s CD.

“It’s what I dreamed of doing since I was little,” he said.

Whitely said some of his favorite songs from the album are “Charlie Brown Earmuffs” and “Soothsaid.”

The first song, he said, is about “blocking out negative things you don’t want to hear.”

The idea for the second song came from some of his memories from the “spiral.” In the song he talks about wanting to be back on his friend’s porch instead of locked up.

“It really touches home a lot,” Whitely said.

Overall, he hopes those who listen to his music will take away a message of perseverance, that anything in life can be overcome no matter how difficult.

A new man, Whitely recently received his Associates in arts degree from JCTC and is working on obtaining his Bachelor’s in marketing from the University of Louisville. Once he completes his second degree, Whitely plans to use it create an audio and video development business to help other artists in their careers.

And of course he continues with his love of art recently working on learning about wood burning and how to create digital art.

Friday Whitely will release his CD at the bimonthly gathering of the Homegrown Art, Music & Spoken Word Show at Cedar Grove Coffee House in Shepherdsville from 6 to 8 p.m.

The show was started by Whitely and other local artists, Bobbi Buchanan and Erin Fitzgerald as an outlet for people to express their creativity through poetry, song, art and verse.

“Everybody has a voice and every sound has a home,” he said.

Whitley’s CDs will be available at the coffee house as well as at cdbaby.com or visit his Facebook page at Auzman Propaganda Man. Within a couple of months, his CD should be available for downloads and streaming on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud.