Get to know our volunteers!
Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? I usually volunteer at Vanderbilt General or The Nashville VA
How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call? Since Aug of 2016 (1.5 years or so)
Are you a Volunteer Guide or Volunteer Musician? Musician
What is your favorite song to play for patients? “On the Road Again” or “Hands on the Wheel”, both by Willie Nelson
Have you ever been part of an impromptu jam session with patients or family in a hospital room? Several times I’ve been playing and people have sang along or harmonized with me, clapped, etc.
Do you perform anywhere else besides with MOC? Yes. I’m a regularly touring singer/songwriter, under my name. Mostly throughout the Southeast and Texas.
What is your occupation outside of MOC? Singer/songwriter/musician. I also host a podcast, “Don’t Stifle Me Podcast” talking with guests in music & performing arts.
What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC? “I grew up in Fort Payne, Alabama, a small town in the Northeast corner of Alabama. Close to Chattanooga, TN. Fort Payne is also the hometown of the country supergroup Alabama, and was once known as “The Sock Capital of the World.” My earliest musical memory is my mom holding me and dancing with me to Willie Nelson’s ” Red Headed Stranger” album when I was 2 or 3 years old.
At 7 I took piano lessons for two years before switching over to guitar around 9 years old. My lessons continued until I was 14, as I grew more and more in love with the guitar and music in general. From 15-18 I played bass and acoustic guitar for a regionally touring gospel quartet. While attending the University of Alabama from 2005-2009, and attaining a degree in Civil Engineering, I began playing acoustic gigs at Frat Parties and bars, and then on to starting a cover band and playing bars/venues in North Alabama.
After college graduation I moved to Nashville in June of 2009 to pursue a future in music. Music is a language-less form of communication with which I continue to fall more and more in love the longer I’m involved with it or around it. The way it interacts with people of all colors, sizes, ethnicities, etc. never ceases to amaze me.
Several years back my grandfather, now deceased, was in the hospital in San Antonio, TX, where my mother grew up. One of the times I went to visit I took along my guitar and sat in the room while he was in and out of sleep and just lightly played and sang for him. After that, the nurses just went on and on to my Grandma about how much that raised the spirits of not only my grandpa but the nurses working as well as other patients in rooms near enough to hear. After knowing that, when I was told about 2-3 years ago, I knew I wanted to be involved.
I’ve recorded and released 3 CDs and have been regularly touring since 2012. One of the things I’m most proud to be a part of has been volunteering with MOC. I’m sorry this was so long, but there it is!
Has your life changed because of your experience with MOC? Absolutely. Seeing the little bit of relief, joy, momentary escape I get to bring to people affects me every time I get to volunteer. It will also make you realize how minuscule your own issues are in comparison to a lot of the patients’ and families’ situations.
What is your favorite #MOCmoment? There was a teenage boy who had been in a serious car wreck and was wearing a halo brace around his whole upper body and neck. He was a guitar player and his mom said his guitar was destroyed in the wreck. They also said he was a Bob Dylan fan, so I played and sang “Forever Young” for him. (A Bob Dylan song)
Around the second verse he started mouthing along with the words and quietly started singing along. After we thanked them for listening and eased out of the room, the mother came out into the hall, hugged me as she was crying tears of joy. She then informed me that until then, he had shown hardly any signs of communication. It still pulls at my heart and makes me tear up a little just typing this out. That’s what music can do.