Nashville is smiling on Bill “Taff” Simmons in ways he never thought possible.
Simmons, formerly of Arkansas City, recently was nominated for a Nashville Universe Award for his song, “Drift.”
He calls the nomination “a cool accolade to what (he) is doing.”
Simmons wrote and recorded the song, which can be heard online at www.taffsimmons.org/#.V88bCL3cCLM.facebook.
The writing of the song was influenced by war veteran suicide rates. It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide daily.
“Politically, it’s everywhere … the effect that the war has.” Simmons said.
The political landscape has left many veterans to fend for themselves, he added.
It was through Simmons’ efforts to understand the mind of a friend, who happens to be a veteran of Iraq, that the song came to be written.
Simmons signed with Mid South. His single will be released in mid-October.
“I’m super excited to be able to be at this stage of my life and still be able to find things to be excited about,” he said.
While Simmons remembers singing and writing songs from a very young age, he calls his ability to play the guitar a necessity to write music.
As a child, he recalled, he and his sister sang in front of 2,000-plus people through church events.
“I came by it naturally,” Simmons said. “My dad was a phenomenal singer and songwriter.”
His father, who passed away very recently, was his largest influence, followed by Kris Kristofferson.
Simmons chose the stage name “Taff Simmons” because it holds great importance to him. His late son and father both shared the name Taff.
Because of his past, he tries to maintain a balance.
“Bill is my name, but Taff is my stage name,” he said. “I don’t want to lose me in the middle of all of this.”
Simmons was not always on the track to success. “I recorded in Nashville years ago, when I was 21,” he said.
But an addiction to methamphetamine and alcohol sidelined him for many years.
“It’s hard to find someone out there that hasn’t been touched by this demon — addiction,” Simmons said. “I put the work in, but I had a lot of good people (around to help).”
The turning point in his addiction was when the drugs started feeling bad, instead of good. “I wanted to be able to feel again,” he said.
Simmons has been sober for 14 years and has been drug-free for seven.
There are two more songs that will be released under his new label at a later date, which came from his experiences with drugs and alcohol.
“Mercy” directly relates to the struggle against addiction.
“Facedown” is about suicide or accidental death due to drug addiction, as well as what individuals who succumb to their addictions might experience after death.