By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb, Black Books and Reviews
Ted Williams lays his life bare in his new book, A Golden Voice, and he tells you upfront that the book and his life are not pretty. He’s right when he says the book is painful to read and that you will not like him for some of what you read. Williams is honest –in graphic detail — about his descent into a crack cocaine ravaged hell of his own making. It is that candor, told in a conversational, readable style, which makes his struggle to regain his spiritual center and his life all the more powerful.
I am drawn to stories of faith and redemption, to the personal testimonies of how God can take a messed up life and restore it beyond what it was before. Williams certainly personifies that in his book. He was a popular Columbus, Ohio radio personality with a deep and melodious voice before he allowed his life to tumble into a 20-year morass of alcohol then crack addiction, stealing and jail time, abandoning his family and prostituting his girlfriend. He moved from apartment living to seedy motels before becoming homeless and living in the woods. He was a con man and a thief who used his rich voice when he needed money to buy drugs. Williams enjoyed 15 minutes of media fame last year after a YouTube video of him panhandling on a street corner and using his “golden voice” went viral.
Much in this book is tragic, disgusting and horrible. It is an up close look at how a man with a caring family, a special talent, and big dreams could let it all slip through his fingers because holding a crack pipe becomes his all-consuming desire. Even after a public promise on the Dr. Phil show of going to rehab and doing better, Williams sought refuge from his too-sudden fame in drugs. A second, more determined rehab stay has Williams now at more than a year drug free and living one sober day at a time.
This is ultimately a book about hope and redemption, about a man’s internal compass that went awry eventually correcting when he began to once again acknowledge God’s presence in his life. It is a story that many people share in varying degrees of addiction and despair, of hopelessness and homelessness, of broken relationships and estranged family ties. In laying bare his own life, Williams offers someone else an opportunity to reclaim their own.
About the Book Review Author
Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb volunteers with faith organizations and the Earl T Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute. She is writing a book about her brother, Earl, and working on other writing projects. Yvonne retired from The Washington Post in 2008 after a 33-year career as a journalist.