West Oak Lane: Despite Challenges, Local Song Writer Aims to Inspire

Harrington enjoyed showing off his musical talent.
Harrington enjoyed showing off his musical talent.

Despite enduring a great deal of adversity in his life, Philadelphia musician Horace Harrington has overcome many challenges and remains committed to inspiring others.

The 62-year-old Harrington, who resides in West Oak Lane, is not able to work due to increasing complications with a hernia, finger cramps, arthritis and a stomach ulcer.

But if anyone can overcome these ailments and continue to lead a productive life, it’s Harrington. He used his gift of music to overcome adversity, and while he is not a household name in the music industry and currently does not perform anywhere due to his hardships, he still uses his songs to paint a path for others.

Originally from Northeast Philadelphia, Harrington grew up in the foster system and he said he was often abused by those who’d been entrusted with his care. In 1982, years after living with three different foster families, Harrington said he was shot in the stomach and the liver because of a mistaken identity. A man believed he was someone else and approached him in a bar before shooting him. Harrington escaped when he used the cast that was on his arm as a result of a recent car crash to knock his assailant down.

Regardless of how challenging life became for Harrington, music provided a steady influence that helped inspire him to persevere.

“Music was always an outlet for me,” Harrington said. “It helped you to forget about a lot of the things that happened to you that weren’t right.”

Harrington said music allowed him to cope with such issues as missing his parents and daily struggles in the foster system. He would bang on pots and pans until his foster family eventually bought him a set of drums. His mother and father, now deceased, had both been singers, which inspired him to learn music. Eventually music became a means of both spiritual and financial support for Harrington, who wrote several jingles for commercials, including one for the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp.

“I wrote my first song at age 6,” Harrington added. “I used to sing about how I missed my mom.”

Harrington will always be proud of his ability to never give up. In 1989, he married, Bertha G. Harrington, who passed away in 2001 from respiratory problems in Florida.

Harrington sat by one of his favorite instruments, the drums.

Following the death of his wife, he turned to music once again for a reminder to stay positive and keep working hard. He now employs that message when dealing with his current afflictions.

“Although I have things that stop me from working, I’m still here, and I’m still alive,” Harrington said. “My songs are about inspiration because that’s what I love to share. There’s always someone worse off than you, and you can be a guiding light for someone.”

Harrington has also learned the importance of forgiveness, especially for those who hurt him in the past.

Although Harrington’s physical condition prevents him from working, he is still fully capable of producing music and is currently in the process of writing another song titled “Agree to Disagree.” Harrington said this song is about basically what the title suggests–agreeing to disagree, accepting other’s opinions, and enjoying life and the people in it. Harrington also said he would love to write movies to inspire people.

Harrington currently helps out at the Eva Donaldson School of Music and while he is not employed there, he still dedicates much of his time to teaching children his gift of music and showing them that they can make something of themselves from any situation and to always remain positive.

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