Since the 1950s, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital has treated the Mid-South's youngest patients, refusing to turn away families no matter their financial status.
Now a group of Memphis musicians are making sure the hospital receives some good karma for its philanthropy. Through the Musicians for Le Bonheur project, artists are banding together to create a compilation album in which all proceeds benefit the hospital.
The project is being spearheaded by Justin Jaggers, owner of Angry Nerd Productions, a one-stop audio production shop that handles everything from professional band recordings to voiceover work for radio stations. Jaggers hopes to bring more awareness to some of the city's independent artists through the project as well.
"These kids are being taken care of and, in a lot of cases, for free if given certain circumstances," Jaggers said. "I want them to be able to enjoy this. Music has a healing factor."
Although Memphis is synonymous with rock-and-roll, Jaggers said the CD will feature local artists from genres across the spectrum, including rock, soul, blues, alternative, and reggae.
"Everybody has seen that Memphis is rock-and-roll. It's Elvis. It's blues. But I have so many different genres of musicians coming to me saying, 'We want to help. We want to put a song on the CD or play at an event for the fund-raiser," Jaggers said. "It's interesting to see this group of people who want to help, and they're coming from genres that you really don't think of when you think of Memphis."
Original songs from Star & Micey, FreeWorld, Deering & Down, Kaci McAnally, the Bo-Keys, and many others will be included. Jaggers said some participants have had family or friends who have been assisted by Le Bonheur in the past.
Despite the long list of artists already involved, the compilation album will be a double-disc that boasts more than 30 tracks, so Jaggers is still accepting material. The album is slated to be released in September and will be available at artist showcases, musiciansforleboheur.com, iTunes, and Amazon. An alternate version with additional tracks will also be available online. The double-disc compilation will cost $20.
Several live music showcases will be held at venues that include Newby's, The Brass Door, Otherlands, and the Hard Rock Café throughout the spring and summer to raise money to create and print copies of the album. The first shows are scheduled to take place in April, but patients at Le Bonheur will have a private performance in March.
Stephanie Rainey, special events coordinator for Le Bonheur, said it feels good to know Memphis artists are contributing their time and effort to raise awareness for the children's hospital.
"I know a lot of Memphis artists put their time and effort and their creative abilities into this," Rainey said. "We're very honored that they want to use their talents toward helping Le Bonheur."
Rainey said Le Bonheur hasn't decided how the money will be utilized, but she said in the past, fund-raising revenue has gone toward purchasing medical equipment and assisting families who can't pay for their child's care.
This isn't the first event Jaggers has put together to benefit Le Bonheur. In 2010, he created a CD that featured tracks from 18 artists and raised about $1,700 for the hospital. Another event, a battle of the bands, which featured six competing bands and a headlining band, raised another $1,200 for the children's hospital.