Sean Costello is one of the best musicians to have ever graced this world. You know when someone just has “it”? You can see it in their face, their body, their movements, and in their hands. You cannot explain to yourself how this person is any better than another musician, you just know. Sean Costello had it. He also had Bipolar disease, which has been proven to be extremely high in artistic people, and Sean was plagued by this insidious condition for years. Unfortunately, Sean passed away from an accidental drug overdose on April 15, 2008 one day shy of his 29th birthday.
I was welcomed into the home of Glenn and Debbie Smith, Sean’s stepfather and mother, where we discussed the creative genius of Sean Costello at length. Sean’s parents have pictures of their son adorning the walls. There are many things that loyal fans have sent to Sean Costello’s parents as well. Numerous paintings hang everywhere as a testament to Sean; from the people who’s lives have been touched and helped through his music, and now through his legacy.
Sean Costello was a musical genius who started playing the guitar before his teenage years, and was being asked to play gigs long before he was legally able to be in bars. Glenn started traveling with Sean when he was in high school. However, there were some guidelines. Glenn told me, “The rule was, that he could go out and play shows on weekends, but he had to get up for school on Monday morning. If he didn’t get up; he didn’t get to play the next weekend.” Glenn shared with me that from an early age, the word “prodigy” had come out of many famous musicians mouths in regards to Sean’s beat, songwriting skills and unique playing style.
Glenn gave me a wonderful example of how Sean reflected his happy, wonderful spirit in so many. One day Glenn and Sean were traveling in Memphis, Tennessee, and they went into a big music store. Glenn asked the clerk to hand Sean a very nice, expensive guitar off of the wall. The clerk looked at a then fourteen year old Sean wearily and said to Glenn, “This guitar right here is not a kid’s toy.” Glenn just replied, “Okay, but let us see it anyway please.” Then, Sean started to play. The man at the counter stared in shock and amazement as Sean ripped out tune after tune on that guitar. The guy let him keep playing, without interruption, and then told them about a blues competition happening in the local area; highly suggesting that Sean enter. It was the seventh, and final night of the Beale Street Blues Society Competition. Sean entered, blowing everyone away with his skills, and won the New Talent Award, beating out hundreds of more seasoned bluesmen!
Sean was diagnosed as Bipolar when he was an older adult. It took many years for the doctors to even recognize the symptoms in Sean. Did you know that creativity in individuals is currently being researched to see if it directly correlates with Bipolar Disorder? Do you realize mental disorders should not be treated any different than a disease like Juvenile Diabetes? Unfortunately, mental illness is a sickness that affects millions. Bipolar disorder is caused by a lack of certain hormones in the brain, whose low effects can lead to depression and mood swings. Most of the time, these people end up alone with no one to help them and turn to drugs and alcohol to bring their mood to a what one would consider a “normal” state. But who can define normal? No one can, as it has never been done, and that is why mental illness is so hard to diagnose. People suffering from Bipolar are usually left to lives filled with silent suffering and much angst, without anyone around them knowing that anything is wrong. Sean was lucky that he had a wonderful, loving family who encouraged his talents and fostered his soul in safe arms. Even with all of their love and support, Sean fought his demons on a daily basis. It is a devastating tragedy that Sean and his amazing talents were lost to this world.
Sean Costello’s parents grieve the loss of their son each and every day. Yet through their sorrow, they were determined to make a difference and perhaps stop what happened to Sean by the creation of The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research. Debbie and Glenn are touching thousands of lives with kindness by offering gentle words of encouragement to all the people who contact them through the website. Debbie tries to personally answer each email that she receives. She has been able to point people in the midst of manias or depression to the right doctor, the right area, and in doing this has lead a lot of people to the proper help and averted possible disaster. Bipolar disorder affects many families and many people. The Fund has become instrumental as a resource for people suffering from bipolar and their families. It has been found, and is being researched through funds by organizations such as The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research, that musicians have a much higher tendency to have this disorder. It is the wish of Debbie and Glenn Smith to provide the means and necessary funding to help other musician’s suffering from bipolar and stop another tragedy from happening.
One way that you can help support The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research is to vote for Sean’s Fund, which would provide a desperately needed $50,000 grant that is being awarded by Pepsi during the month of October. Registration is simple and you can vote each day until the end of this month. Please take the time to help them by voting up to three times per day…every day!
1. Vote at http://www.refresheverything.com/themojoproject
2. Text a vote by sending 103158 to Pepsi (73774) daily
3. Install the Facebook Pepsi Refresh Voting App:
(This app will show up on the Facebook home page in the left column when logged in.)
Vote each way for up to three votes a day!
View the Fund’s Facebook Fan page for more details on The Mojo Project:
Another way that you can help support The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research is to attend the Second Annual Benefit Concert: A Root & Blues Festival tonight, at the Cotton Club/Tabernacle. The concert is organized each year by the Fund, with all money raised goes directly to further research and helping musicians in need. The line-up is filled with many of Sean’s dear friends, who will play in celebration of Sean’s life and help raise some much needed funds.
The Second Annual Benefit Concert
A Roots & Blues Festival
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Doors at 4pm; Music from 5-11pm.
Location: Cotton Club/Tabernacle
152 Luckie Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30303