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This Competition Is Putting Recovery on a Big Stage With a Microphone

How do you let know recovery is alive and well in Philadelphia? By putting individuals in recovery on a stage, handing them a microphone and telling them to sing.

Inspired by American Idol, Recovery Idol is now entering its sixth year. The singing competition, founded by ‎local radio host and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) liaison Derrick Ford, takes shape in five events throughout the city from spring through the end of summer.

“Philadelphia has become the Mecca of recovery,” Ford said. “We’re doing something no one else is doing. Folks need an opportunity.”

Recovery Idol is a product of the Philadelphia Recovery Coalition and hosted in partnership with the DBHIDS andPennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT). Last year’s winner beat out 62 competitors and was crowned during a finale at Penn’s Landing in front of 25,000 people, Ford said.

Here’s the 2014 winner:

“One of the great things about this whole thing is we’ve been blessed to have world-class musicians accompany the artists,” Ford said, adding that the musicians involved have played with acts like Patti LaBelle and local R&B legend Jill Scott.

But the best part? This is a totally replicable template, and Ford said he’s gotten calls from folks in D.C., Pittsburgh and New York City interested in bringing a similar event to their city.

“The goal is to show that not only by the contestants but also by the following it gets — how well it’s attended by the community — trying to send a message that people are in recovery,” said Andrea Brooks, manager of Provider Development and Transformation Initiatives (PDTI) at DBHIDS.

This year, the winner will be named at the Dell Music Center on Friday, August 26, and will go on to perform for the audience at Recovery Walks, an advocacy parade, in September.

Community-Based Services Development Unit (CBSD)

Community-Based Services Development Unit (CBSD)