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Musicians on Call Launches Rock the Room Tour With Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Kelsea Ballerini

Rick Diamond
Rick Diamond

Music has a major role in the healing process — this was demonstrated on Oct. 21 at Nashville’s City Winery, where Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Kelsea Ballerini performed and shared their involvement in supporting Musicians on Call, an organization that brings music to the bedsides of hospital patients.

Musicians on Call launched their Rock the Room Tour in Music City and will continue through L.A., D.C. and New York City to provide awareness for the national organization which is established in 17 cities throughout the nation, MOC President Pete Griffin explains to Taste of Country on the red carpet before the show.

“The folks playing tonight, these are folks who have been here throughout the years,” he says of the night’s star lineup. “Kelsea has been volunteering for us. Reba and Martina have done multiple events for us throughout the years. We wanted to go with the people who we knew had our back and were supportive of our mission. We’re grateful we have such amazing people that support us.”

Ballerini was a volunteer with Musicians on Call long before she had a hit song on the radio. She tells Taste of Country what it was like walking into a hospital room to perform for a child for the first time.

“No one knew who I was,” the singer recalls. “I’m sure they have big, famous people sing to them all the time, but they let me sing still which I so appreciated. I went in to sing to all these kids. I think I probably sang “Let It Go” from Frozen 70 million times because that’s what they wanted to hear. It’s a very humbling experience and it really does show the power of music and how it heals people and how it brings people together even if you don’t know each other.”

In between her two-song acoustic set of “Make the World Go Away” and “Love Me Like You Mean It,” Ballerini shared the story of singing for a young boy who just got out of surgery. While he didn’t react much to her when she was in the room, an hour later his father went to find her because his son wanted to tell her something. She went into the room, and he said thank you.

“Y’all, that’s what you’re supporting tonight,” she told the audience. “It’s really special.”

Martina McBride performed four songs during the evening, including “Blessed,” “Wrong Again” and “That’s Me,” dedicating a few to Shane Tarleton, Warner Music Nashville’s Vice President and Creative Director, who was being honored for the Leadership in Music Award. Before she sang “I’m Gonna Love You Through It,” she told the story of her experience performing it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“Something happened to me this past week. I got to be part of something really, really special that I think demonstrates why were are all here tonight,” she revealed. “I got to be part of a little 4-year-old girl, who sang this next song to her mother who has Stage 4 lymphoma. It was one of those moments in your life that you feel so privileged to be a part of something that was so powerful. I think that’s why we’re all here tonight.”

Actor Charles Esten from ABC’s Nashville was also on hand and told the story of when his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. From hospital visits and playing her music he learned that music transcends and takes people to another place. “Music is a different kind of medicine. It’s a heart medicine,” he said.

Lady Antebellum’s Dave Haywood and his wife, Kelli, also share their support for Musicians on Call.

“To have an in-hospital performance is such a cool thing and to put smiles on people’s faces,” Dave said to Taste of Country. “We’ve done it a couple times and it’s such a cool thing when you see people light up when you’re playing and singing and when you walk in the room.”

His wife admits that they now have a different perspective having a son.

“It means so much more when you think about children that are sick and what you can do to make their day a little bit better,” she added. “It’s really special that they give back.”

The 2015 event raised more than $130,000 from over 300 people in attendance. A cause close to Tarleton’s heart, he advised the audience to “find something that matters to your heart and step outside of yourself for a minute. Not everybody can do that. For those of you who can’t, you need to open up your wallet.”

McEntire closed the evening with memorable performances of “How Blue,” “One Promise Too Late,” “Somebody Should Leave” and “I’m a Survivor.” Before she said goodbye, though, she honored Tarleton one more time, calling him back up to the stage to sit in the middle of her and McBride as they performed the emotional “Does He Love You” together.

For more information, visit Musicians on Call.

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