When Gary Campbell sits down to write a song, he often doesn’t have to look further than his own life to find inspiration.
“Everything I write about is true; I don’t lie. I don’t make things up,” said Campbell, who lives in Lancaster.
One of the personal topics that has come up again and again in Campbell’s songwriting is his 10-year battle with seizures.
His willingness to sing openly about his medical condition caught the attention of the Maryland-based Epilepsy Foundation, which recently invited him to perform live on Saturday during the National Walk for Epilepsy in Washington, D.C.
“I plan on doing three or four of my own songs. I get a half hour and they want me to talk between songs about myself,” Campbell said. “I’m honored. I feel pretty privileged.”
Since its inception, the National Walk for Epilepsy has raised almost $7 million to advance access to care, fund research and educate the public.
During the event, participants will walk three miles, starting at the Washington Monument and continuing around the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jefferson memorials.
Campbell, a country artist who signed with Banner Records in 2002, said this will not be the first time he had performed before a crowd of people who understand the fear that comes from living with epilepsy.
In November, he sang four of his songs for a crowd of 3,000 people during an epilepsy seminar at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus.
“All four songs were about seizures and it was unreal; people were crying,” he said. “A lot of the parents there had young children who were going through the early stages of seizures. … One woman told me, ‘My daughter is going through what you’re going through and she’s only 12.’”
Campbell, who experiences his seizures in “clusters” on a monthly basis, said the lyrics for his songs can come to him at any time, and anywhere.
He said one such song, entitled “No Clock, No Calendar,” came to him when he was at River Valley Mall in Lancaster.
“I started thinking, ‘I could be standing in a crowded shopping mall, could be walking around the neighborhood, when I think I’m doing good, it hits me out of the blue,’” he sang. “I called the song ‘No Clock, No Calendar’ because I never know when I’m going to have a seizure. It just comes out of the blue.”
Campbell already has released two CDs. In 2011, he recorded one of his self-penned songs, “There’s Worse Things Than That,” with the Fisher Catholic Chamber Choir. The song, which Campbell wrote after experiencing a seizure, talks about the importance of putting one’s problems into perspective.
“I thought about my son who was in the Army and the earthquakes in Japan, which were happening at that time. … It made me wonder, ‘Why am I complaining about a seizure or the price of gas when there are worse things going on?’” Campbell said in 2011.
Campbell said he hopes his music will comfort others on Saturday who also are suffering from seizures or who know someone living with epilepsy.