Aria Stiles, violinist, recent Belmont grad, and current Miss Shelby County, had been active in Nashville's chapter of Musicians On Call when she noticed that Memphis didn't have a chapter, so she took it upon herself to start one.
On Friday, May 26th, there will be a fund-raiser with a straight-to-the-point name, Let's Bring Musicians On Call to Memphis. Brian Nhira from TV's The Voice will perform, and there will be a silent auction. The goal is to raise $10,000.
Musicians On Call was started in 1999 by Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Both of them had recently lost loved ones, and a special concert was held at the hospital in the memory of one of them. The concert, featuring Wynton Marsalis, was for the patients, and the effect of the music on them was noticeable, though one nurse lamented that it was a shame that some patients were unable to attend because they were confined to their rooms. It was from this germ of an idea that Musicians On Call was born.
- Aria Stiles, violinist on call
Volunteer musicians pledge to perform for two hours once a month for a year. Each musician has a guide. The guide goes to a room and asks if the patient would like some music. (Stiles says giving the patient a choice is powerful when they are often powerless in what is happening to them.) If they say, yes, the show is on.
Stiles says that she'll ask the patient if they have a request or "should I just do what I do?" She says, by far, her number-one request is "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."
Stiles, who tours with Pam Tillis, says that if the Memphis chapter is established, they'll start with one hospital. She says that Musicians On Call tends to spread rapidly.
At Friday's event, Tillis will perform "Maybe It Was Memphis," and she and Nhira will do a duet of "Two Kings," a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and Elvis Presley.
Stiles tells of performing for babies in the NICU unit and watching as their bodies relax, and she says working with Musicians On Call can sometimes be intense. "Music has a powerful healing effect," she says.