I woke up this morning and my world was knocked completely off kilter.

The news of a young and brilliant singer, song writer, musician and man having passed just left me absolutely stunned. The fact he was so young makes it hurt all the more. That he was also a friend has just broken my heart.

Mike Ledbetter was one of those rare individuals with a soul as deep as the ocean and a heart as bright as the stars. His music, his passion, and his love for his friends and family are awe inspiring. He had a presence on stage that commanded every last ounce of your attention and he could hold you right in that place while he belted out the blues with pure talent and heart. With all of his formidable and intimidating stage presence, he was every bit as much warm and generous.

A young man who spent years singing opera and then turned his talents to the Blues, he could hit notes that would surprise you and enthrall you.

I’m so grateful to be able to have called him a friend, brief as it was, he made an impact in my life that I’ll cherish forever.

I still can’t believe this is real, that this good and kind man with a wicked sense of humor and a musical talent every bit as amazing as the biggest names you’ve ever heard… This man is gone.

When I think of what it means to be a Man, I think of someone who loves deeply and cares beyond words, who is honest and kind, who is respectful and charming, a person who has the character to do what is right in life and to follow their passion while being open and appreciative of those around him. Michael Ledbetter was truly a Man in every sense of the word.

My heart is broken today, and I don’t know how to put into words how the loss of this luminous being from our world will continue to impact myself and all those in his life. His music and his spirit will always be with us in the very star dust that makes each one of us. This giant will continue to exist and will never truly be gone. His legacy will live on in the example he set for each of us.

I hope that someday his children will truly understand the amazing man their father was. I’ve no doubt that the loving family and bond of friends in his life will ensure they are well aware of this.

I wish I knew what to say or what to do right now, but instead I’m just in stunned silence groping for the words to express my broken heart.

My absolute deepest condolences go out to his wife and kids, to his family, to his friends, and to everyone who knew him and for each that he knew and cared for.

For Nick Moss and his band, for Mike Welch and the rest of the Connection, to all the amazing artists he worked with and who freely and openly have expressed their sorrow and love; I offer my deepest and most heartfelt condolences. Knowing that they are pale words to such a painful wound that we are all feeling, they nonetheless are the only words I can find at this moment.

Please keep his family, both close and extended, in your hearts.

Our community has lost an amazing person. And I’ve lost a friend.

Please be kind and loving to one another. Tell those you care about that you care about and love them. Our worlds can change in the blink of an eye, just that quickly all the things we wish we’d said and done can never be gotten back.

To each of you who has become such amazing friends and family to me, I love you and I am grateful for the impact you’ve had on my life.

Rest well Mike. The Blues carried you through and the stars have carried you home. You are forever a part of who I am today, and I am all the better for it.