Music

Melodic Caring Project

When music is the medium

Hear

What: An Evening with Levi Ware

When: 7:00 pm Sat., Feb. 13

Where: Livestreamed from Subdued Studios

Cost: By donation

Info: http://www.subduedstudios.com/subdued-streams

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Kaydee Curbow couldn’t make it to her own benefit concert.

The then-11-year-old had been diagnosed with leukemia in July of 2010, and treatments she underwent throughout the following year had done a number on her immune system. Kaydee needed to quarantine, and the Aug. 27, 2011 show planned in Mount Vernon at the historic Lincoln Theatre would have to go on without her.

Or would it? Longtime musician and producer Levi Ware—who was joined onstage at the fundraiser by Jacob Navarro of Spoonshine and special guest Steven Barci—had a swell idea. He arranged to stream the concert directly to Kaydee’s hospital room, and made sure she could see and hear the musicians and audience members who had gathered from afar to support her.

The formula was a successful one. Kaydee and her mom were blown away by the love they felt through the screen and, through tears, told Levi how much being a part of the concert had meant to them. 

While some people may have accepted the praise and gone on to focus solely on their own musical career, Levi and his wife Stephanie instead took the opportunity to found the Melodic Caring Project, a nonprofit that has spent the past decade successfully combining music with technology to stream live, personalized concerts and events to children and families who need to isolate in order to stay healthy.

If the last part of that sentence sounds familiar, it’s because the coronavirus has opened people’s eyes to what it means to have to be separate from friends and family in order to keep sickness at bay. It’s a commonality the Wares quickly identified last March, when it became clear MCP’s annual gala planned at Seattle’s Neptune Theater would have to be turned on its head.

In short, the audience for the fundraiser needed to stay at home, while a small number of performers and crew members held down the fort at the 800-seat venue. But since the Melodic Caring Project already had the professional know-how to livestream events, it wasn’t a big stretch to share their technological prowess with supporters, who tuned in to the concert and accompanying auction to find a message of perseverance from Levi and Stephanie.

The duo acknowledged the future was uncertain and scary, but pointed out there were lessons to be learned if one looked closely. They’d created the Melodic Caring Project specifically to care for kids and families in quarantine, but the fact that the populace at large was now isolated too brought home the need for empathy and understanding from those who discovered constant thoughts of illness were bringing fear into their lives.

“Consider that these are the concerns our rockstar families feel on a regular basis,” Levi said. “Because of their compromised immune systems, these amazing kids are constantly in fear of infection and of illness. What we consider to be a unique and rare experience, for them it’s their daily experience—kids battling cancer, cystic fibrosis, mast cell activation, and any number of profound illnesses.”

“COVID-19 puts into sharp focus why the mission of Melodic is so important for the kids we serve and why our program is so critical for the families during this difficult time,” Stephanie added. “Melodic Caring Project is not about entertainment. It’s about recognition, it’s about accessibility and inclusion when kids are in quarantine. It is something joyous to look forward to amid all of their procedures and needle pokes. The music is only the medium that we use to deliver that support and the love, the recognition and that compassion to the kids and families who are so scared and feel they have been forgotten.” 

In the months since the online gala, Melodic Caring Project has furthered its ultimate goal to create safe spaces for people to come together as a community. During the pandemic, they’ve expanded their support for kids battling illness to include all ages, hospice patients, healthcare workers and others dealing with COVID-related depression, anxiety, mental health and isolation.

They’ve also adapted their regular programming. For now, instead of connecting artists from the stage, they’re streaming them performing in their own abodes and into hospitals and home-care rooms worldwide. The past year also saw MCP rope in talent such as Jon Foreman, Andy Grammer, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Allen Stone, G. Love & Special Sauce, Josie Dunne, Switchfoot and more.

During the same time frame, the Melodic Caring Project also tripled the number of programs offered per month and experienced more than 500 percent growth in impact—from 2,739 patients impacted in 2019, to a jaw-dropping 14,259 in 2020.

To get a sense of what the organization is all about, and to donate to the worthy cause, I’d suggest a rewatch of the “Raise a Record” gala on the nonprofit’s website. It’s possible you’ll tear up watching clips from patients and their families who found light in the darkness and music in the silence, and it’s also likely you’ll come away with a renewed sense of hope for the human race.

For a sampling of Ware’s instrumental and songwriting prowess, Bellingham’s Subdued Studios will host the musician at 7pm Sat., Feb. 13 for “An Evening With Levi Ware.” While streaming live from the recording studio directly to Melodic Caring Project’s Facebook page—where kids in hospital rooms across the country will also be listening in—he may discuss how the nonprofit got its start, and perhaps mention Kaydee Curbow, who’s now a 22-year-old student at Skagit Valley College. But maybe he’ll just spend most of the pre-Valentine’s Day concert playing his heart out, and that’s just fine too.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Melodic Caring Project, go to http://www.melodiccaring.org

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