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UK music student using his songs to make a difference in eastern Ky. communities

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 9:40 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Where you’ll find Josh Rister, you’ll also find his guitar.

“I’ve always loved music. My dad listened to a lot of 70s and 80s country when I was a little boy,” said Rister, a music student at the University of Kentucky.

He likes the era of greats like Johnny Cash, and the storytelling in his songs.

“He sang songs that I could connect to and he really believed what he was singing,” Rister said.

As Josh began to write an album about his hometown in Lewis County, he knew there was one topic he wanted to approach.

“A lot of songs that I write, like ‘Blood, Meth and Tears,’ which is the title track of the album, and ‘Nine Months Clean and Sober,’ are tracks that I wrote specifically to target issues surrounding the opioid epidemic. I’ve had a lot of friends and family die,” Rister said.

In 2020, more than 1,900 Kentuckians died from a drug overdose, which is a nearly 50% spike from the year before.

“A lot of people from the area shun people when they get to that point. But it’s always been my goal to make it a more supportive message,” Rister said.

It’s what inspired Josh to donate half of the proceeds from his album, Blood, Meth, and Tears, to addiction recovery. He just recently donated $500 to Recovery Works in Greenup County.

“It was important to me because I know a lot of people get into music because they think they can be rich and famous. But that’s never really what I wanted,” Rister said. “My goal has been to support the community around me and help people I really care about.”

He’s putting his family first, and a crisis that plagues it, and so many others.

“I just want anybody who hears any of these songs to think that there’s something to care about,” Rister said.

You can find his album streaming on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, or follow this link to his Facebook page where you can order a hard copy.

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