Ben Danaher says new album ‘Still Feel Lucky’ helped him cope with family tragedies

Ben Danaher insists he’s still feeling lucky, even after enduring personal tragedy.

In 2010, his brother Kelly Danaher was gunned down in small-town Huffman, Texas by his neighbor Raul Rodriguez while he was celebrating the birthdays of his wife and daughter with friends.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez grew irritated because he thought the music was too loud on their 4-acre lot, the Houston Chronicle reported then. He was allegedly confronted by a group of angry, intoxicated men, and claiming self-defense he killed the 36-year-old Kelly.

Danaher, whose new album is titled “Still Feel Lucky,” told Fox News Radio’s “Children of Song” podcast that his brother was unarmed.

“It was a hard one,” Danaher admitted. “It was so pointless.”

Danaher was at a gig in a rural area with little reception at the time of the fatal event. He was surprised to hear his phone suddenly ringing. His father then revealed Kelly had been shot and killed.

“I remember not processing that for a long time,” recalled Danaher.

The high-profile trial, which is still recognized as one of the "first stand your ground" cases in the country, was widely covered by news outlets.

Two years later, Danaher’s father, also a songwriter, died of cancer. After the trial, Danaher moved to Nashville where he immersed himself in music to heal.

“I had written so much that I felt I had become a better songwriter,” said Danaher.

Still, Danaher was told in publishing meetings that his songs were too depressing. Frustrated with the music industry, he went to stay with his 93-year-old grandmother in Vermont.

“I was leaning so hard on that sympathy that I was letting it guide me,“ he said. “But every day my grandmother… would talk about how lucky she was. And this is a lady who served in World War II and all of her friends had passed away. … You talk about death — everybody around her was gone. And yet she’s totally content.”

“The eye-opening moment for me was that life does move on. And this happens to a lot of people. Not that it diminishes anything that’s happened in my story, but there’s a time to put your feet forward and start looking for happier things.”

That was the experience that Danaher was compelled to create in his current album. Some of its tracks include “My Father’s Blood,” “Over that Mountain,” and “Jesus Can See You,” just to name a few.

“I had accepted so much sympathy from this situation with my brother and my dad that it had become an identity,” said Danaher. “And I was leaning so hard on it that I expected it.”

“The eye-opening moment for me was that life does move on,” added Danaher. “And this happens to a lot of people. Not that it diminishes anything that’s happened in my story, but there’s a time to put your feet forward and start looking for happier things.”

Listen to Ben Danaher's entire "Children of Song" episode. You can download or stream the podcast from the Children of Song homepage or become a subscriber on Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Google Play or Stitcher.