It was the top of the COVID pandemic in the United States – a time when safety precautions were confusing to many Americans, personal protective equipment was scarce, and accommodations were just starting to be made for vulnerable communities.
On March 17, 2020, Robbin Hardy armed herself with Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer before heading to the grocery store with her daughter. Later that same day, she began to experience COVID-19-like symptoms. The process to receive a test at all, let alone a positive one was harrowing.
By March 26, 2020, Robbin Hardy took to Facebook to tell her COVID story. On April 6, she became a part of the growing fatality numbers when she died at a Baton Rouge hospital. This is where Ronaldo Hardy’s grief-filled journey begins.
“FOURSIXTWENTY,” a music project, is his testimony.
“Early on, as I was navigating my grief journey, I looked for all types of resources to help me. Because I am a singer, I have always looked to music as a source of healing and/or expression. I was surprised to see how sparse the resources are for those grieving. I even found it difficult to find music to listen to that resonated with my soul. Not at the surface, but music that would go to the deep places of the pain this type of hurt causes. I realized many people needed the same,” Hardy said.
Named for the day his mother died, “FOURSIXTWENTY,” is not a gospel album, rather it’s more of a socially-conscience project that allows Hardy the space to openly grieve while inadvertently supporting others who’ve had the same experiences. Hardy, who said he wanted to be as real as possible, likens the album to that of sitting on a couch in therapy.
Through “FOURSIXTWENTY” he also wants to normalize therapy, especially for Black men. As such, the 16-track project is comprised of nine songs, four scripted therapy sessions with a licensed family therapist giving actual mental health counseling, an intro, a tribute from his dad and siblings, and another tribute from his four children.
“I’m excited about what this project will mean for many people who have and do continue to navigate their own grief journeys,” said Hardy who is also pastor of All Nations Baton Rouge. “This has not been easy at all. And even taking the time to journey through these emotions musically has even pushed me to the brink at times, but I’m willing to do it if it will help others.”
While recording the project, Hardy admitted he’d experienced some of the same raw emotions he felt around this time last year, particularly while working on “Tears,” which he listened back to at his home shortly after the recording session.
“When I got home, I played it over and over again, and found myself balling,” he said. “It was the type of cry I had not really had since the first week my mom passed. The reality is this level of grief is immensely painful. Harder than anything I have ever encountered.”
The first single, “Triggers” is something most grieving people can relate to. A mental health term, a trigger, refers to something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress, according to healthline.com. It affects your ability to remain present in the moment. The song allows listeners to either identify personally or be educated on what that journey feels like. Another first release off the project is “All the Lights Went Out,” which will have a professionally-shot video. The song tells Hardy’s story from the moment his mother was tested for COVID-19 all the way through her actually passing. More than half a million people in the United States have succumbed to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
“I recorded this project for two reasons – one, I wanted to document this journey as a tribute to my mom, and the deep love I have and will always have for her,” Hardy said. “I wanted to timestamp these raw emotions as well. But another major reason I recorded this album is to provide a pathway of healing for many who are hurting. Whatever healing may look like. I realize for most of us, it looks like finding the strength to move forward in spite of the pain. I wanted to normalize grief and help others to see that they aren’t crazy when they feel these feelings. I wanted music that would resonate with the soul and allow many souls across the country to feel safe releasing these emotions. I hope it will lead many through a journey of hope, healing, soul cleansing, and a new freedom to live.”
“FOURSIXTWENTY” will be available on April 6, 2021, on all of digital outlets.
By Leslie D. Rose, Contributing Writer