WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Like a lot of musicians, Christopher Essex moved to Nashville with a dream in his head and a song in his heart.
"I was young enough and I figured if I’m going to risk leaving everything for something, let’s do it for this," said Essex.
In March 2020, just as he was ready to hit the stage, he had to run for cover. "All of our windows popped in at that point, the pressure just imploded everything," recalled Essex.
Essex's rental home in Wilson County took a direct hit from the tornadoes that tore through the area on March 3. Half of the house was destroyed and an entire grove of trees in his backyard was left in splinters.
First was the storm, then came the plague.
"I got a call from work saying you don't need to come into work. We’re going to be closing down for two weeks, and then two weeks turned into a month, months after that," said Essex.
Within the span of two weeks, Christopher became homeless, jobless, and as he struggled with Tennessee's unemployment system, hopeless. "I don’t think I’ve talked to the man upstairs as much as I did during this time because I was asking him -- am I reading these signs correctly?" he said.
It wasn't just his spirits dwindling, so was his access to food. "The rental that we had, the shelves were just pretty much empty," said Essex.
Then a knock on the door changed everything. It was Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, making a home delivery.
"That knock, for me, was the sign that said you’re misreading the signs that I’m giving you. They’re not saying pack up and go, they’re saying you’ve been on the go for so long, you’re going to have to dig in and fight harder for this to be your home. And I did," he said.
That was the turning point.
Piece of Christopher's life started coming back together. His Wilson County home was repaired, he finally got on unemployment, eventually got his job waiting tables back and he was even performing again. It wasn't a live show, but it was for a live audience on Instagram.
Earlier this month, Christopher gave his best performance yet, on Instagram. He posted a video where he opened up about his struggles in 2020. "If there’s anything I could ask for for my birthday it would be to raise a lot of money for them because they honestly put me back on a really good path," Essex said in the four-minute video.
The musician offered up a ten-minute private FaceTime call for $10, all to be donated back to Second Harvest Food Bank. As you probably expected, 10 minutes turned into 10 hours. "We filled up the whole time slot and then I still had people -- I’d rather just donate, tell me how to donate," he said.
Christopher dropped off a check Friday for $1,200. That equals out to about 4,000 meals that Second Harvest can now provide. Christopher hopes those donations will allow other hearts to sing along too.
"It’s probably one of the best birthdays I’ve had in such a long time," said Essex.
If you'd like to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, you can do so by clicking here.