About eight years ago, Darren Eubank and Chima Ijeh were busking on the corner of 7th and Bishop streets in Oak Cliff. Things grew from there into their six-piece band, D and Chi, which jammed across the country and abroad.
Eubank's is a familiar face in the local music scene. If you didn’t know him from one of D and Chi’s shows, you may have known him from the open mic scene or for his pandemic concert series called Songs From the Street. He turned his car into a venue on wheels to bring his music to listeners as they sheltered in place. He just knew how to connect with people. He likely got this from his adopted mother. He told VoyageDallas she’d spend hours in the grocery store just talking to people.
Eubank died May 30 after being admitted to Methodist Dallas Medical Center with COVID-19.
“At approximately 2:40 a.m. May 30, 2021, my sweet husband took his final breath,” his wife, Brecia, wrote on Facebook. “I don’t have words to adequately describe the depth of the pain I’m feeling in this moment. While I wish I could reach out to each of you, tell you individually, my husband was very well-loved and the calls would be never-ending.”
D and Chi had a show booked Friday night, but Ijeh knew Eubank had COVID-19 and that he’d be playing alone. He got a call from Brecia saying they were in the emergency room. Ijeh wanted to go to the hospital to visit his bandmate, but because Eubank had COVID-19, he wouldn’t be able to see him. Over the phone, Ijeh told his bandmate to fight. “I told him I’d kill him if he died. He laughed and said ‘I know. I’m going to fight,’” Ijeh recalled. “That was the last time I spoke to him.”
The Wednesday before, Eubank sent a text to the band’s group chat. In the text, Eubank said he submitted everything for their latest album and finished their release show. “He was like ‘Just sending this text and doing all this has taken all my strength. I’m really exhausted,’” Ijeh recalls. “It’s crazy because the last thing he did was music.”
His voice shaking over the phone, Ijeh said: “Ultimately, he gave his life in the making of this album. So, my main priority right now is for the world to hear his music and for the world to honor his legacy. I think that’s the intention of everyone in the band."
Eubank met his wife in 2019. They owned RISE Performing Arts Center, which is primarily a dance studio, but the couple planned to expand into other arts. This week, the couple was supposed to move in with local musician Cameron Ray. Eubank and Ray were best friends. They’d talk on the phone six-eight times a day.
They first met at Opening Bell Coffee about seven years ago. “There was just this instant click,” Ray said. “That’s how Darren is with anybody.” The two were both just getting started in their music careers at the time. There are a plethora of great musicians who have come out of Opening Bell’s open mic night, Ray said, and Eubank was one of them.
Eubank was a singer-songwriter who wrote about love and life’s struggles. People remember Eubank as someone who looked struggle in the face because he always knew everything was going to be OK.
“Darren had a lot of ups and downs, just like I did,” Ray said. Besides working for Uber, the two tried to make all their income from music, which isn’t an easy thing to do. “Seeing him take it ... and just be like ‘Oh, something better’s going to happen’ really helped me with where I was at.”
Eubank came from a big, loving foster family with many other adopted siblings. “That’s a lot of what he knew, just love,” Ray said. “He would just go out of his way to help a stranger. The term ‘He would give you his shirt off his back,’ as cheesy as it is, Darren really would. That was the best part about it, him being there for you no matter where you were at.”
He grew up in Red Oak and attended Red Oak High School. He liked to play baseball and eventually made it on his college team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University. But, music took over his life.
In recent months, Eubank and Ray were booking shows together at Firehouse Gastro Park. He also continued driving out to people’s houses to play a personal show for them as part of his Songs From the Street series.
Eubank started feeling sick last weekend. Ray was hanging out with him at the time. Ray and Brecia suggested he get tested for COVID-19. The test came back positive. Ray would check in on him every six hours and they’d play Call of Duty on Xbox every day and night.
Ray sent Eubank a text around noon on Friday. His wife responded. They were at the hospital. Eubank’s oxygen levels were low and doctors needed to run some tests. He posted a picture of himself hooked up to medical gear in the hospital with a joke. “Felt cute, might delete later,” he wrote.
He was eventually admitted into the ICU, separated from his wife. Around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Eubank called Ray. “I just want you to know man, I love you," Ray remembers Eubank saying. "I appreciate you, and when I get through this we’re going to do some big things.” Ray told Eubank to just worry about feeling better. Eubank called his wife around the same time. He died about 22 hours later.
Friends and family flocked to his social media to write about what they remembered of Eubank. “Forever in our hearts,” a post by the D and Chi Facebook page read. “The most passionate, kind, genuine, loving human you ever did meet. May his kind and gentle spirit live on. Gone too soon, certainly never forgotten.”
Local musician Jade Flores remembered hearing Eubank’s voice for the first time at a Red Oak café called Muddy’s. “You were playing ‘The A Team’ by Ed Sheeran,” Flores said in a Facebook post. “It’s crazy I remember it so vividly but from the moment I met you I knew I’d see your name in shining lights one day.”
She walked into the café a couple of days later with her own guitar and swapped songs with Eubank. They went out to eat afterward and spoke about one day making it on a reality TV show like The Voice or American Idol. Six years later, the two would reunite in California for the 18th season of American Idol. “You’re with the big league choir now, and I know you’re shining like the star you are,” Flores said.
A GoFundMe campaign set up three days ago to pay for medical and funeral expenses has raised over $22,000.
Friends and family will celebrate Darren Eubank’s life on June 12 at Oaks Church in Red Oak. Details can be found here. The service will be livestreamed for anyone unable to attend.
Ray read something recently that encapsulates how he feels about losing Eubank. It said something to the effect of, suffering and joy are essentially the same thing. You can suffer and still have joy at the same time. Ray said, “As much as I’m suffering, I am extremely joyful for Darren and the impact he made on so many people. It’s astronomical.”
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