Mark Erelli is slowly going blind. In August 2020, he noticed he couldn’t see his fingers during a show. After that, as he was driving in a tunnel, everything went black. Mark went to the doctor and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, or RP. Since then, his life has changed in ways he could never have imagined. He doesn’t drive at night, he carries a flashlight everywhere he goes, his relationship with his family, his writing and career have been pushed to the brink. All the processing he’s done over the last three years has led him to his latest album, Lay Your Darkness Down.
In our conversation, we talk about Mark’s new challenges he’s faced while living with RP. He shares what it was like for him to tell friends and how he constantly has to advocate for himself. One aspect he did not expect was being able to use his white male privilege to speak up about his disability in hopes to help the community of people with disabilities. Once he realized that, he recognized that it was his responsibility to speak up for the greater good.
One hilarious note: my 6 month old puppy decided she wanted to interrupt and tear apart a book during the interview. I tried to get her out of the room, but in the end, she insisted that she remain. I apologize for the occasional rustling and background noise. If you listen hard enough at one point, you can hear Dottie the cat growling at her. Yay puppies.
Photo Credit: Joe Navas