Brian Peters releases new song, 'Why,' inspired by daughter Amber Evans

With band Deuce 'n a Quarter, Peters and his son wrestle with grief and unanswerable questions on a new track releasing at Natalie's in Grandview on Saturday, May 29

Joel Oliphint
Columbus Alive
Brian Peters with daughter Amber Evans, a local activist who died in 2019.

When Brian Peters’ 28-year-old daughter, Amber Evans, went missing in January of 2019, he tried to numb his emotions and focus on being strong for his family. He did the same after Evans’ body was recovered from the Scioto River in March of that year. But it came at a cost. He didn’t take the time to properly grieve.  

Peters, a songwriter who sings and plays harmonica and other instruments in local blues acts Deuce ’n a Quarter and Mill Street Blues, tried putting his thoughts and emotions into words and music, but at first only darkness came out. Then, around the time of Evans’ May 31 birthday in 2019, he wrote a song called “Why” that felt different. “No matter how hard I try/I’ll never know why,” Peters sings in the refrain as he wrestles with the song’s titular question.  

More:Remembering Amber Evans

The death of Evans, a beloved figurehead in the local activist community, was ruled a suicide, and with all the unknowns that surround her passing, Peters has had to accept that he’ll never have the answers he craves. “It's taken me a while to get to this, but knowing wouldn't change a single thing. Knowing wouldn't bring her back,” Peters said. “As a father, to even allow yourself to think that your baby girl is hurting that much, that she would take her own life, and there's nothing you could have done... that's just a really hard place to be in. … If there is any such thing as peace for me in all this, it's just to accept the fact that I'm not really, truly going to know, and if I allow my faith to carry me through until we meet again, then when we do, I'll know.” 

Peters didn’t finish the song in one sitting. He wanted to involve his son, Brian Peters Jr., who sings with his father on the track and helped him personalize some of the lyrics. “He brought over a 12-pack and we pulled out pictures [of Evans] and just finished the song. ... We had never done anything like that before,” Peters Sr. said. “I wanted to somehow try to put her story together in a short song — to tell her story and my grief and not be too dark with it, but be true.”

After recording the song more than a year ago, Peters still wasn’t sure if he wanted to release it, but over time he came to realize that “Why” could provide healing not just for him and his family, but for others who have lost loved ones. “I have some friends who have lost kids that I talked to throughout this process, and it really helped me. I think there are going to be some people that can connect to the song, and it could mean something to them,” he said. “I believe we're all broken in some form or fashion. I think we try to hide our brokenness, and I think there's healing and help for others when you share it.” 

On Saturday, May 29, at 8 p.m., Deuce ’n a Quarter will play a release show for “Why” at Natalie’s in Grandview. Peters will have 100 CDs on hand at the show, and the single will release digitally two days later, on May 31, to commemorate Evans’ birthday. (All proceeds from single sales will go to charity, though Peters said he hasn’t decided on the nonprofit yet.) 

Peters said the song also serves as a public reminder of Evans and the life she lived. “In 2019, [Evans] was in the news and all over the place. It was fresh. You mentioned her name and people knew. Now, when I'm saying, ‘Hey, I'm releasing this song. It's about my daughter.’ — a lot of people I talk to have no idea who or what I'm even talking about,” Peters said. “It's a conversation piece that brings up a story and a memory. I get to explain who she was. It’s an opportunity to talk about her, and hopefully it allows other people to do the same thing.” 

“I don't know if anybody will be listening to this song 50 years from now, but it's something that will be in this world throughout time. It's a way of keeping her around,” he continued. “But the main purpose for releasing the song is that, hopefully, the person that needs to hear it most gets to hear it.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs to speak with someone immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the keyword “4hope” to 741 741.