Comfort, simply defined as freedom from physical or mental pain, can soothe one's soul with soft words or a simple compassionate touch.
For Anderson native Eric Wickens, "Comfort" seems to come from a deep, faith-centered desire to help others survive tough times. On his first CD, Wickens soothes with an operatic/gospel command that often warms the heart.
It will also tests the mind for some — but such is the fate of central Indiana listeners who haven't developed a fondness for the rich subtleties of operatic styling. Take comfort, Wickens will help guide you through it with his contemplative bass baritone.
Some of us, however, may have to overcome the general perceptions of stuffy music.
"A lot of folks are used to hearing things from 'American Idol' or pop stations," Wickens acknowledged to The Herald Bulletin. "But once people listen to this, it ends up being comforting to them so it seems I've done something that hits home."
The depth of his voice is a gift, not unlike the richness of a Paul Robeson.
Wickens, a 1987 graduate of Highland High School, is the son of Dan and Pam Wickens. His grandfather, Joe Wickens, opened the former Wickens Shoe Store in 1945. He is married to the former Kelly Wood, a Madison Heights High School graduate.
He has been singing for a few years in church services, where he received favorable responses with folks saying they found solace in his voice.
"I was wondering how to bottle that," he said. "I ended up focusing on the classical side of sacred music rather than gospel pieces. I think it speaks on a religious level and meditative level. My hope is that it will speak to you with a calming effect."
He recorded the CD at the acoustically-enhancing St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. Lately, he has been performing with the Lyric Opera Theatre of Indiana, a group of 10 central Indiana singers who are taking classical music to towns and venues outside of Indianapolis. The group has performed at the Paramount Theatre in Anderson Their next performance is at 2:30 p.m. April 12 at First Christian Church in Kokomo.