Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Austin's Swan Songs turns fundraiser into a 'Serenade' for healthcare workers

Jackie Venson is among the Austin artists contributing a virtual performance for Swan Songs' "Serenade to our Healthcare Community" series.

Swan Songs, which for more than a decade has helped to arrange intimate musical performances for terminally ill patients, typically holds its "Serenade" fundraiser every fall. But with the COVID-19 pandemic making it harder to hold in-person galas, the Austin nonprofit has shifted its focus this year to a series of virtual performances from prominent local musicians in September and October.

Dubbed the "Serenade to our Healthcare Community," the series launches at 3 p.m. Friday (Sept. 17) at swansongs.org, with additional performances streaming every Friday, leading up to an Oct. 17 program geared toward direct donations from viewers (with sponsorship support from Tito's Handmade Vodka).

READ MORE:Austin nonprofit Swan songs presents music for terminally ill patients

Among the local artists creating virtual performances for the series are Marcia Ball, Ray Benson, Jackie Venson, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Carolyn Wonderland & Shelley King, Shinyribs, Ray Prim and Ley Line.

At first, the virtual performances were to be specifically for healthcare workers, but ultimately a decision was made to open up access to the general public.

In a statement announcing the series, Swan Songs founder Christine Albert said the new approach arose from discussions with Amy Lukken of Tito's about addressing the mental-health effects of the pandemic. "We discovered that they were also looking for ways to support healthcare workers." Albert said. "Together, we are refocusing the time, energy and resources it takes to create a large event, and instead sending personalized music directly to that community."

RELATED: Our 2014 interview with Christine Albert

Lukken added, "We acknowledge the high levels of stress and burnout they must be going through, and want to bring a little joy into their lives through music with our friends at Swan Songs.”