Saturday August 10, 2013

ELIZABETH CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- On June 18, 2009, North Bennington native Naomi Bindman lost her 17-year-old daughter Ellen Bindman-Hicks in a car accident. According to Bindman, Ellen was a very talented actress and musician who had the ability to critique society, explore relationships and examine philosophical questions about life through her music.

"She had a wisdom far beyond her years," Bindman said.

Since Ellen’s death, Bindman has made it her priority to celebrate her daughter’s life by holding concerts in her memory and performing all of Ellen’s original music herself.

"I have embarked on a journey that will continue the rest of my life," she said. "It has been a process of finding my voice and learning to become a performer in order to try to do justice to her music."

Bindman joked that at first, the thought of performing on a stage did not appeal to her in the least.

"I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, no, no! I have no desire to stand on stage with lights on me,’" she said. "But then, I thought if I wanted people to hear Ellen’s music, this would be the best way."

Bindman began performing Ellen’s songs in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and traveled out West attending open mic nights along the way as a means for "survival."

"I started doing this for selfish reasons," she explained.


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"Over the years, however, I’ve been surprised at the number of people who come up to me and say they’ve experienced similar losses and that my concerts help them heal."

During her concerts, Bindman said she made, and continues to make, every effort to make her performances joyful rather than a way to simply eulogize her daughter.

"It’s a way of celebrating her life and creativity," she said. "Ellen’s songs are primarily acoustic folk with a little bit of pop influence, and people can relate to her songs wherever they are in life."

Bindman says that singing her daughter’s songs has been a profound experience.

"Sometimes when I am singing Ellen’s songs, I feel her sing through me," she said. "That connection is precious."

In the coming year, Bindman hopes to record 12 more of Ellen’s songs on a CD which she will distribute for free at her concerts, as she has done in past years with Ellen’s first CD, "Write Me a Future."

"I hope people will be interested in taking the CD and hearing her voice," she said.

Bindman will hold a concert at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 108 School St. this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. accompanied by percussionist Mickey Carter and bassist Hope Hersey. Saratoga Springs, N.Y., singer/songwriter Chris Nerney will open the concert.

To learn more about Bindman or Ellen’s music, e-mail Bindman at Naomi.bindman@gmail.com.

Contact Elizabeth Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.