Finding a Voice for Recovery through Music
by Ava Suppelsa, Singer-Songwriter
Editor's note: Ava's music so inspired me that I was simply compelled to post this up on TIR's resources section. I hope that you, too, will find Ava's music both moving and encouraging. Addiction is real . . . but so is transformation! The video's great—check it out. - DDM
When I was 14 years old, my dad went to treatment for alcoholism. I am now 19 and he’s been sober since. He was very private about his drinking and nobody in my family knew even close to the extent that it was happening until he decided himself to go to treatment.
I’m a singer/songwriter and I write about my life experiences and things that have emotionally impacted me. When my dad sat me and my brother down to tell us that we would be driving to Hazelden in Minnesota to drop him off the following day, he actually prefaced it by saying “Ava, I have some new songwriting material for you.”
My dad was trying to lighten the gravity of what he was telling us, and in the moment I didn’t ever think I would even know how to write a song about this. But four years later, I was able to.
After my dad went to treatment, many of my friends and classmates that knew about it opened up to me and told me of similar situations in their families. I was shocked by how many people had a loved one who was struggling with addiction, even some of my closest friends — I had absolutely no idea the problem was so widespread.
One important piece of information I need to tell you is that my dad is a TV personality in Chicago. When he went to treatment, he was honest and straightforward about why he would be absent from the nightly news for a month, and the news shook the city in an amazing way. It encouraged people to come forward and seek help for themselves and erased a bit of the stigma that clouds addiction.
Watching this as a young teenager was incredibly shaping and inspiring for me, because a man I look up to so much was able to admit a weakness and that he needed help on live television. When I decided to write the song about my dad, I wanted to portray this side of addiction — the positive, inspiring side that doesn’t get talked about. I wanted to show that while my dad is a recovering alcoholic, he is also the most loving and supportive dad I could ever ask for. I wanted to help to clear some of the stigma and to share my own story, because even though I myself am not an addict, I was able to find inspiration and strength in his story.
Thus, “Finish Line” was born. It helped me realize lessons that my dad had silently been teaching me throughout his recovery by actualizing them in words on a piece of paper.
It’s my favorite song that I’ve ever written because it’s more than just a song to me; it’s my family and my identity and our story.
Ava Suppelsa is a 19-year-old country singer/songwriter from Evanston, Illinois. Capturing a diverse sound between country and pop, Ava's influences draw from more than just the current country genre and fuse it with folk, pop and event hints of jazz. Despite her young age, Ava has already begun making a name for herself in both the Chicago and New England music scenes.