Musicians join tribe in remembering Faith Hedgepeth

Feb. 27, 2013 @ 11:05 PM

The family, friends and tribe of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth say they’re not going to let anyone forget.

While news out of Chapel Hill about Hedgepeth’s murder Sept. 7, 2012, seems to have quieted to nothing more than a whisper, in and around her hometown of Hollister, people are talking and singing. And they have created a video to keep her memory alive.

Hedgepeth, 19, who attended UNC, was found dead in her apartment at Hawthorne on the View on Old Chapel Hill Road. Police are investigating her death as a homicide.

On Sunday, the band Dark Water Rising traveled to Hollister to film a video for their song, “Hometown Hero,” which was written by lead singer Charly Lowry about Krista Deese, a Lumbee Indian from Robeson County, who died in a car accident in 2010.

The song seems to have touched people’s hearts, and Lowry and the band have performed the song at other funerals and memorials of people who have died young, including Marine Jacob Levy of Greensboro, who was killed in Afghanistan in December 2011.

The lyrics reflect the feelings of those left behind when someone dies suddenly: “I’ll be waiting to see your face again. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, but I’ll say hello in the afterlife, just like the first time we met.”

Hedgepeth’s father, Roland Hedgepeth, heard the song, contacted Lowry and asked whether the band would be willing to perform and record the song during one of its shows and change the wording a bit to include Faith’s name.

Lowry talked to the other band members, and they agreed they wanted to do more, so they decided to make a video for the song in Hollister and include the Hedgepeth family, her friends and her tribe, the Haliwa-Saponi.

Greg Richardson, a lifelong friend of Chad Hedgepeth, Faith’s brother, began organizing the event and had T-shirts made with a handprint that said, “Remembering Faith Hedgepeth” and “Stop the Violence Against Women.” Many people, including the band members and Faith’s family, wore the shirts during the filming.

They filmed at the Haliwa-Saponi tribal grounds and at the nearby cemetery where Hedgepeth is buried, Lowry said.

About 200 people showed up for the filming, which began about 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We were able to get shots of everyone involved,” Lowry said.

Faith Hedgepeth was a tribal dancer and danced often at the tribal grounds, so it held special meaning for Lowry and the others that they filmed the video on the same ground where Faith had spent so many happy hours with her family and friends.

The band recorded a live version of the song as the large group sang along on the chorus.

Consuela Richardson, 32, Hedgepeth’s first cousin and an outreach counselor for the North Carolina Commission for Indian Affairs, attended the filming.

“It was spiritual and very emotional,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of equipment. It was very respectful.”

Lowry, a semi-finalist on American Idol during its third season, said the storyline of the video will be about the song and how it developed.

“It started out simple, and it grew to touch a lot of lives so far,” Lowry said of the song. “These families that are reaching out to us in times of grief and mourning; it’s nice to know they’re using this song as a form of healing to help in that process.”

Greg Richardson and Chad Hedgepeth are founding members of the Phi Sigma Nu Fraternity, the largest and oldest historically Native American fraternity in the nation. The fraternity is spreading the word about Hedgepeth’s death so people won’t forget, Greg Richardson said.

The fraternity is selling the Faith Hedgepeth T-shirts and donating the profits to Faith’s family, Greg Richardson said. (Greg Richardson is an employment specialist in Charlotte and not the Greg Richardson who leads the N.C. Commission on Indian Affairs.)

While the family and friends are happy with the video filming, they’re still frustrated with the lack of information about the investigation from the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Alfred Richardson, the tribal administrator, called it a gaping hole.

“The family needs information that we don’t feel they’ve received,” Alfred Richardson said. “They need to know what has happened to their daughter and their sister.”

At the same time, they’re trying to be patient, hoping investigators will make an arrest soon.

“We know it won’t bring her back, but it will bring closure to maybe get to the bottom of who did this and why,” Consuela Richardson said. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about it. We can’t understand why anybody would do that.”

The Chapel Hill Police Department says it does not plan to release any information to anyone, even her immediate family.

“There are details that only we know and only the killer knows,” said Sgt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department.

If a suspect is identified and interviewed, it’s important that the investigators know that the only way the person would know those things is if the person committed the crime, Mecimore said.

The tribe, her friends and family worry because no one knows who killed Faith.

“It’s really a hot-button issue for us,” Greg Richardson said. “We just want to see justice. When they don’t release any information, it’s scary. There’s a killer on the loose.”

Dark Water Rising is playing a free show at 10 p.m. Saturday at 2nd Wind at 118 E. Main St., in downtown Carrboro. Their new EP, Grace & Grit, Chapter 1, which was released Tuesday, will be for sale at the show.

To see a portion of the video, go to: darkwaterrising.net.

To buy a Remembering Faith T-shirt go to: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDhfSEF6U3FkRTh1Sm1mMnZxNVlER1E6MQ.