“I remember going through alcohol problems. I remember lying in the hospital. I was laying in the hospital and I heard a footstep. And then a footstep. It was a (two) story hospital. I heard the footstep come in, get into the elevator, I heard the elevator come up, the elevator opened. I was lying on my bed listening to it. And I heard him walk. Walked to my door and the person stopped at the door….And I asked him to come in. And the fellow at the door said ‘no I can’t go in.’ I said ‘why?’ ‘Oh there’s a Bible by the dresser. Can you get rid of it?’ … And he stood at the door until I got rid of the Bible.
Then all of a sudden these kids come in…And all the kids came and they actually got rid of that fellow. But he didn’t go far he just went to the door…I was in so much pain. So much pain. Imagine getting yourself burned in your hand or your finger. I had alcoholic poisoning and then that was twenty four hours in my stomach.
Then after the kids come this fellow came up, I don’t know where he came from, and sat right next to me and he said ‘Tomorrow you will be all right.’ ‘How do you know tomorrow I will be all right?’ ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be all right.’ And he went and I slept again. So much pain. I was in so much pain and then, I slept…
The next morning I woke up, I got woken up by… a crack on the wall and the sun shone through the hole and it hit me right …on my forehead. … so after that day…It was fourteen years ago, I stopped drinking that day. And that thing hit me on the head. And the good man fixed it that day.”
One of the great gifts of Portraits In Faith for me has been my experiences with Australian Aboriginal elders and experiencing the beauty of their culture and ways. I am continually struck by the way that spirituality is part of everything in indigenous cultures. Meeting Warren Williams, his wife Heidi, and his father, Gus Williams, was truly a highlight of my immersion into Australian Aboriginal culture. Warren and his father Gus are the only father-son pair who have both won Australia’s equivalent of the Country Music Awards! When I was there, I was treated to beautiful session of singing in Gus’ home, which is part of this interview.
Warren’s amazing story, which he had never shared before, reveals his painful journey with alcoholism and the how he was healed after a visit with both a dark spirit and a divine spirit as he lay dying in a hospital. His father, Gus, passed away two years ago so this footage holds a special place as we remember him and honor his legacy. What a surprise it was to me–this Jewish kid from Atlanta, Georgia–that the Williams Family always ended every concert with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken!” It is a real honor to have spoken with Warren and to have experienced his family in their love of music.
Note: It is the tradition to let members of the Aboriginal community to know that deceased relatives are depicted in an image or video. Warren has given his permission for us to share Gus’ image which is common especially for people who were public figures.