Many years ago a friend invited me to an event where his friend, musician, Donovan Mixon, was having a small open house. Mixon was performing with friends. I remember this being a wonderful afternoon. Ever since, I have been on his email list for events. Chicago Splash Magazine attended and reviewed one of his performances several years ago.
Recently, I received an email from Donovan Mixon that caught my attention. His story is remakable, as follows: “Please check out my fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). It’s Been Good, Give-Back Campaign.
I’m launching this campaign to give hope to the multitude of parents in the world whose child or children have been taken. It is a grinding kind of torture to go to bed each night and awaken each morning with the realization you don’t know where your child is, if he is well or sick, cold or hungry. I am forever grateful for the help of NCMEC and hope you will make a donation to this wonderful organization.
I wrote It’s Been Good as a celebration of the reunion with my son, Ozan and as a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for playing a pivotal role in his rescue.
The song will be only available by way of donations to NCMEC.
Please give if you can. If you aren’t able, please take a moment and SHARE this email with your friends and contacts.”
What a powerful story! I wanted to know more.
In part this is Mixon’s story:
The song, It’s Been Good was inspired from a conversation between myself and my son Ozan’s terminally ill mother who in anticipation of resistance from her family, expressed in writing her wish that I raise our son, after her death.
But her wish was turned on its head when her family kidnapped him, launching a nationwide search. He was missing for four years until in 2016, by way of a dramatic police rescue, Ozan was found in southern Turkey.
I’m launching this crowd funding campaign to give hope to the multitude of other parents whose child or children have been taken. It is a grinding kind of torture to go to bed each night and awaken each morning with the realization you don’t know where your child is, if he is well or sick, cold or hungry. I am forever grateful for the help of NCMEC and hope you will make a donation to this wonderful organization. I wrote It’s Been Good as a celebration of our reunion and as a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for playing a pivotal role in the rescue of Ozan.
Donovan Mixon generously agreed to a Splash Magazines Worldwide Q & A with me, as follows:
Barbara Keer: How did you meet your wife? (Ozan’s mother)
Donovan Mixon: I met Ozan’s mother, Sule (Shoo-lay) Hizal in Istanbul, Turkey. She was the teacher of a Turkish class I was taking. I was able to get to know her because she often joined the group for lunch after our class meeting.
B. K.: Where were you living when she became ill?
D. M.:We were living in Etiler, a cosmopolitan business/residential district of Istanbul. We moved there because it was near her office.
B. K.: How did you garner the strength and courage to find Ozan?
D. M. :Through my love for him, of course. Ozan was a wanted child by both Sule and I. Also, almost literally on her deathbed, she grabbed me by the collar and demanded I promise to take care of Ozan after her passing.
This is the source of the lyric from my song It’s Been Good: Keep him close to your heart, for it’s my heart, that I leave behind…”And the final line, Promise me you’ll come through.
B. K.: How did you learn about the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children?
D. M.: A lawyer specializing in family affairs suggested it. She provided much needed support to my lawyer and friend, Ali Kartal.
B. K : What are Ozan’s interests?
D. M.: Ozan is a local chess champ. He arrived to the US at 10 years old with advanced abilities and has only improved over these four years. He is now 14. His awareness on the board is truly remarkable. He is also an avid soccer player and has a high aptitude in math.
B. K. : How did Ozan feel about graduating Junior High in this year of the Pandemic?
D. M.: He hasn’t said much about it. However, I know he was disappointed at the muted quality of it all. Before the pandemic we had talked up the celebration quite a bit.
B. K. : You have written several books that have been well reviewed. Are you working on any new books now?
D. M.: I am currently sending out queries for a completed manuscript entitled, Jumoke’s Lesson. It is a fable that takes place in a fictional West African country where Yoruba culture is prominent. I am also building an online music course, Performance Ear Training.
B. K. : Do you have any additional plans to share your story?
D. M.: I’ve been working on a memoir with the idea of writing a screenplay sometime down the line.
B. K. : Aside from making Splash Magazine Worldwide readers aware of your Go Fund Me campaign and the song you have written in association with the campaign, is there a specific message you would like to share?
D. M.: I’ve always heard of stories where children were kidnapped by family members. Like most, I never imagined such a thing touching my life. Sometime during the early period of this personal calamity, a loving friend asked: “I suppose you wonder, ‘why me?'”. I hadn’t had such a thought, but my response to him was, ‘Well, why not me?’, I’m just a man in the world subject to all the goodness and evil that exists like everyone else.
What really surprised me about this whole ordeal, was the ease with which Ozan’s family teamed up to slander me, lie and hide the boy for four years, depriving him of normal socialization and proper education. They claimed to do it out of love. Their actions represented many things, but love wasn’t one of them.
It is my opinion that the family’s actions ultimately failed because they were unaware of my secret weapon: friends. The response of friends and students from Turkey, Singapore, Canada, Europe and the US who came to my aid in some form or other was consistent and principled. I can’t imagine how I would’ve been able to do this without their emotional support and practical help.
My current wife Diana and I, are so happy to have him in our lives. He’s such a remarkable person. No words can suffice to express my gratitude to my lawyer Ali Kartal and NCMEC, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for returning Ozan to me. Please donate to the campaign or directly to NCMEC. They are working 24/7 putting shattered lives back together.
B. K. : What accounts for the timing of this campaign?
D. M.: I started this well into the second year of our reunion. As I adjusted to my new life with my son, my artistic side, as usual, began to process what had happened, trying to make sense of it. The lyric came rather quickly, the music more slowly. At a certain point, I knew it was done and thought to record and release it normally. But then, I felt that the story needed more exposure and it had potential to encourage other parents out there suffering the torture of waiting. So, I decided to raise money for NCMEC as a give-back campaign. August 28th is the end of the campaign. At that time, I will do a normal release of the song on all platforms.
Photos: Courtesy of Donovan Mixon