Musicians On Call honored Darius Rucker during its Millions of Moments celebration at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. on January 26, marking the organization’s first in-person event in more than 3 years. The night celebrated the incredible milestone of the organization performing for more than one million people in hospitals across the country since its founding in 1999.
The sold out crowd enjoyed performances from special guests Charles Esten, Jon Pardi, The War and Treaty, and Sam Hunt, as well as touching stories from patients who have experienced the healing power of music.
Esten kicked off the live music with an original song, “Make You Happy,” which Esten tells Music Mayhem he thought was a perfect fit for the occasion. “We’re trying to lift hearts a little bit and that is the very essence of Musicians on Call.”
Rucker received the Music Heals Golden Ukulele for his support of Musicians On Call’s mission for more than a decade. He has performed at bedsides and virtually for adult and pediatric patients, Veterans, and hospital staff nationwide. Rucker told Music Mayhem how he became involved with the organization back when it began more than 20 years ago.
“I was living in New York and my wife actually, we were dating at the time and she was involved.” Reflecting on his years of service, Rucker says that every moment is special. “When you walk into the room and that kid recognizes you and the family recognizes you and you ask them what song they want to hear and you play it, you see the joy you’re bringing them for a minute. And how you’re getting to take their minds off their problems just for a second, that that’s healing right there.”
Rucker encourages other artists to volunteer their time and talents, too.
“I think everybody that would love to do it should get involved cause when you walk in that room with a guitar, a little big small piano or something, you play a song for that family who’s been in there with their kid and the kid’s been sick, or just some patient that’s been sick. Just give them a second of comfort, a second of love and what you get back is so much more.”
Rucker humbly accepted the award, saying “I try to do all my charity stuff, I try to do quietly and get stuff done and help people as much as I can. So when stuff like this happens, I don’t even know what to do. I’m just honored being recognized.”
Presenter Charles Esten said of Rucker, “He makes the whole wide world happier… The things since I’ve known him that have influenced me the most are his kindness, the way he walks into a room, he lights it up with a smile and that laugh.”
Leigh Parr Malleus (Universal Music Group, Vice President of Media Marketing) received the Leadership in Music Golden Ukulele for serving as a Volunteer Guide at Nashville-area hospitals since 2010 and connecting numerous artists to Musicians On Call’s programs and live music campaigns, including Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley, Lauren Alaina, Maddie & Tae, performers Jon Pardi and Sam Hunt, and fellow honoree Darius Rucker.
“To be here tonight celebrating hitting a million moments, is… It’s so moving. I don’t have the words for it. It’s really beautiful,” says Malleus. She has spent the majority of her time as a volunteer guide at Alive Hospice. “You’re bringing so much peace to the families in there. Also, it’s a lot to go through and to share in these really vulnerable moments with people, to have them allow you in and then to see how that music can change the whole atmosphere for the better. We’re all for the better for it.”
Jon Pardi performed his hits “Head Over Boots,” “Heartache Medication,” and “Last Night Lonely” during the Millions of Moments celebration. As a Musician on Call volunteer himself, Pardi says that witnessing the healing power of music is special. “It brings you where music really helps people… you see toes tapping and that stuff’s really magical.”
Pardi shared his favorite memory of volunteering, where a man in a wheelchair wasn’t saying much at first. “Hell, we didn’t even know if he was interested. And then we got done and we were walking out. He was like, where are y’all going? And so it was really cool and just little moments you’ll never forget.”
The War and Treaty performed Ray Charles’ “You Don’t Know Me” as well as their original songs “Ain’t No Harm In Me,” “Yesterday’s Burn,” and “1989.” Tanya Trotter of the husband and wife duo shared why they’re involved with Musicians On Call.
“I believe it’s important for musicians to be available to serve the community because we are servants. We’re servants to our audience and healing is one of the foundations of how people get ahead in life, how people find joy. And to be able to go into hospitals and be a part of what they do is amazing.” Michael Trotter revealed that they have finished recording their album and fans can look forward to new music in the spring. “We’re looking at the second week of March for a release. Fans can expect love, love and more love, and we are very proud. We did this project with Dave Cobb, so we’re extremely excited about it and can’t wait for you all to hear.”
Sam Hunt closed out the night with a set of his hits, including “House Party,” “Body Like a Back Road,” and “Water Under the Bridge”, as well as his latest single “Start Nowhere” and an unreleased track, “Came the Closest.” The longtime Musicians On Call supporter told the crowd, “Medicine has evolved quite a bit over the last few generations thanks to science and our understanding of the body. But I don’t think we’ve even begun to understand the healing power of music on the soul and the spirit.”
Musicians On Call raised more than $250,000 during the event and shared a preview of the organization’s plans to grow, unveiling its new proprietary online platform that will be the future of delivering programs at a bigger scale alongside a refreshed brand identity.
To learn more about Musicians On Call, visit their official website HERE.