A Musical Ray of Hope
By John Alexander
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Music That Heals is a unique nonprofit organization that was co-founded by professional musicians Kathy Lord and Susan Weber. Their goal was a simple one: to bring the healing power of music to ill children and adults — a ray of hope and sunshine to patients in need.
The program was initially founded to bring music to sick children and has since expanded to include patients of all ages in hospitals, hospice facilities, AIDS units, children’s homeless shelters, schools for special children, out-patient clinics and cancer centers, as well as performances at the bedside of the patient.
The program now has a roster of more than 45 professional musicians and serves more than 35 healthcare facilities each month with live professional musical performances.
Lord, originally from Gravesend, is a published songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and recording artist. She began her career as a solo artist, singing and playing guitar. She has performed at various concert venues throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as on cruise ships, at private parties, clubs, commercial functions and concert halls.
Weber, originally from the Bronx, has been a musician since 1979. Also a recording artist, bass player and vocalist, Susan has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, holds a doctorate in world history and now also works as a college professor.
Lord and Weber met in 1983, and together they formed the Lord & Weber band. As the Lord & Weber band, they have shared the stage with artists such as Glen Campbell and Tammy Wynette, they were invited to perform for a visit from the Dalai Lama at a major New York City hospital, and they have performed at functions attended by U.S. presidents. Lord and Weber also worked with world-renowned recording artist Nana Mouskouri and received an album credit on her “Return to Love” album.
In 1997, the duo founded Music That Heals. Lord explains her motivation for starting Music That Heals: “It was after I had done my first gig for children who were disabled. I went into this facility and the children all gathered around me in a circle. I had to hold back the tears during almost the whole performance. When I left that facility, I said, ‘I’ll never do anything like that again.’ As time went on, I realized that this was the real meaning of music for me. I literally saw the healing power of music when I saw the responses I had received from those kids.”
Lord adds that musical quality and professionalism is the standard for the program. One of the distinctions of the program is the talent of its musicians; Lord explains, “All are hand-selected to fit the needs of the patients and various healthcare facilities — Award-winning instrumentalists, Broadway musicians, Juilliard graduates, musicians who have not only worked with concert headliners, but who are themselves some of the best musicians in the industry.”
The program relies on the generosity of a multitude of partners, such as foundations, family/charitable trusts and individual supporters. Lord says, “One of our biggest supporters who really helped put us on the map is the May Ellen & Gerald Ritter Foundation. When Vincent Rohan, who runs the foundation, found out what we were doing and liked the way we ran the program, he started us out with a grant for the NYU Cancer Center (now the Perlmutter Cancer Center in NYC) and Brooklyn Calvary hospital in Brooklyn.”
The foundation continues to support the program with annual grants for the NYU main hospital lobby, Tully Health Care Center in Stamford, Connecticut, the Perlmutter Cancer Center in New York City and Calvary Hospital in Brooklyn. All of those places get a performance a week, which adds up to almost 200 performances a year. Lord adds, “Mr. Rohan has helped us take a tremendous step forward, and we will never forget that.”
Music That Heals also sends monthly performances to Brooklyn facilities such as Brooklyn Hospital, SUNY Downstate, Maimonides Hospital and Saint Frances of Paola.
At Calvary, for example, there are “Musical Tuesdays;” every Tuesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Music That Heals sends performers to the hospital. Lord explains, “What you learn is that these performances are not only for the patient; they help the visitors and the staff as well. You see family members who have been there for days sitting at the bedsides of their loved ones…and all of the sudden, it’s Tuesday, and a musician comes into the room, and for the moment, it changes everything. You will sometimes see nurses dancing in the hallways, people singing along, and the whole atmosphere changes. This is the positive difference we are making in the world.”
The organization also raises funds through their annual 5K Run in Prospect Park. This year’s 5K Run is Sunday, Sept. 25th, at 10 a.m., rain or shine.
To learn more about Music That Heals, or sign up for our annual 5K Run, visit: www.musicthatheals.org.