Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
In 1994 Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was incorporated as a 501C3 nonprofit charity and for the past 24 years has been offering vital assistance to professional musical artists in need. Many prominent musicians, professionals and music fans have contributed enthusiastically to Sweet Relief. Benefits have been performed in venues from Miami to Seattle, with performances donated by many established and emerging artists. Nightclubs, concert halls, radio stations, internet sites, restaurants, clothing and shoe companies, music retailers, athletes, actors, corporations, foundations and music fans have all participated with Sweet Relief to assist struggling musicians.
Music has made all of our lives, and the events in our lives special and memorable. While few find fame and fortune, most musicians remain in the field for their love and passion of music. The choice an individual makes to be a professional musician is one of sacrifice. The average income across the various employment options while accounting for the part time nature of most opportunities is less than $25,000 annually. Over 65% of professional musicians do not have health insurance. Since the mid 1960’s (Post Beatles) the number of individuals choosing music as a career grew exponentially. Previous to this time most professionals were either orchestra and classical players or jazz and blues artists. The explosion of pop, rock and country career musicians over a 20-year period in the U.S. represented an artistic and cultural revolution.
While the financial hardship a musicians faces when dealing with illness or disability may be a constant, we now face a burgeoning elder population of artists with little or no resources available for such emergency situations.
Sweet Relief was founded by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams in 1993. Victoria, while on a career-making tour with Neil Young was forced to drop off mid-schedule after experiencing unexplained debilitating symptoms. A long and painful diagnostic process revealed she had multiple sclerosis.
After her diagnosis, a group of friends assembled an all-star album of Victoria’s songs, Sweet Relief, which alleviated much of her medical debt. Vic, knowing that there are many musicians like her -unable to afford medical expenses and compromised in their ability to work- donated some of her proceeds from the album to found Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
The name of the fund derives from a song of Victoria’s, Opelousas (Sweet Relief) and the fact that we do provide sweet relief in the form of financial assistance to many musicians who would otherwise be in untenable predicaments.
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