Musicians On Call is a wonderful organization that brings the joy of music to hospitalized patients around the world. Living by the motto “music heals,” those blessed with talent have been giving back to the community in large ways since its 1999 inception. When the Nashville chapter opened its doors in 2007, the country music industry joined the impact so enthusiastically that a waiting list of musicians over one-year long now exists.
One of the people who has given much of himself over the years is Shane Tarleton, Vice President and Creative Director at Warner Music Nashville. Last night in Nashville, Tennessee at City Winery, Musicians On Call’s Rock the Room Tour honored the deserving Shane with the golden ukulele for his work with the organization, which includes visiting over 2,000 patients.
On hand to celebrate Shane (as well as other award recipients) were Kelsea Ballerini, Martina McBride, and Reba McEntire. And, though the previously announced Kelly Clarkson could not be present due to illness, her spirit resonated in the room, garnering several mentions by Musicians On Call board members and her fellow artists. Also on hand to get the musical festivities underway was ABC Nashville‘s Charles Esten, who shared his experience with the proven theory that music heals.
Before introducing Kelsea Ballerini, Charles explained that his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. During her stay in the hospital as she underwent treatment, she reacted favorably to music. “I knew right then the power of a song”, Charles stated. His daughter is sixteen now and just won a soccer championship, but Charles has never forgotten the battle and those moments that helped heal his baby’s pain.
Musicians On Call volunteer Kelsea Ballerini was the first major act to the stage, singing the beautiful “Make the World Go Away” by Ray Price. Separating herself from the upbeat, sassy singles she has sent to radio thus far, the twenty-two year old sensation, accompanied by two guitars, showed a more subdued side to her artistry, gorgeously crooning the words to the sentimental song. Kelsea completed her two-song performance with an acoustic rendition of her first Number 1 hit “Love Me Like You Mean It“, making it crystal clear that both the song and the artist rightfully claimed that top spot months ago.
Next to the stage was chart-topping, award-winning Martina McBride, present to pay homage to her friend, Shane Tarleton. Martina stunned the crowd with four powerful tunes, “Blessed“, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It“, “Wrong Again“, and “That’s Me“. Explaining that she never performs “Wrong Again” anymore and hasn’t included “That’s Me” (video below) on a set list since approximately 1993, Martina honored Shane with some of his favorites from her personal catalog.
Closing out the charity event that filled the City Winery seats with some of the most renowned executives and artists in Nashville was none other than the Queen of Country Music, Reba McEntire. Reba explained to the audience that it would be incredibly simple to just whip out a checkbook and donate money to a cause, but the time and effort that Shane and the other volunteers put into Musicians On Call is admirable beyond words.
Reba, who was slated to perform four songs, chose a unique collection of her hits, sharing that she selected songs Shane would love. The set list, which came from Reba’s heart, included “How Blue“, “One Promise Too Late“, “Somebody Should Leave“, and the appropriate “I’m a Survivor“.
However, Reba wasn’t ready to drop the mic and call the inspirational theme song to her long-running sitcom the finale. Instead, she welcomed Martina McBride back to the stage for a duet, which soon resulted in Shane taking front and center as he sat between the two vocal powerhouses and listened to them musically fight for his love. The legendary females belted the Reba McEntire/Linda Davis hit “Does He Love You?“. Reba very obviously vied for the affection of her man, even busting out with an unexpected “CRAP!” as Martina crooned “But when he’s with me, he says he needs me”. Though the entire evening was an ongoing reel of highlights, this moment was one that event attendees will never forget (video below).
While the music was indescribably phenomenal, it is important to note that the reason we all gathered in the room was to thank Shane Tarleton for his service with Musicians On Call. The Warner VP was introduced by John Esposito, CEO of the label, with only a handful of swear words, and a very emotional and touched Shane accepted his award with grace, humility, and humor. Shane expressed that he had dreamed of being in the music industry while surrounded by a family of nurses, and the organization combines the two passions that molded his childhood. He prided himself on the ability to open his heart and checkbook to support those who are suffering, encouraging others to follow suit and step outside of themselves for just a moment.
Of course, the acceptance speech would not have been complete without a little bit of “fan boy’ing” over the performers he now calls friends.
Reba is at my table and my thirteen-year-old self is FREAKING OUT!
Also sitting at Shane’s table were his proud parents, smiles never leaving their faces for the entire three hours. Shane pointed them out and shared his gratitude — in the way a creative and comedic mind would.
I love my job. I worked hard to get it and I intend to keep it. Thank you to my family for supporting this crazy s***.
And, thank YOU to Shane Tarleton for the selflessness you display and the time you take to give back to those in need. You are a glowing example of leadership and community, and the country music industry is a better place for being able to call you one of its own.
Watch Reba McEntire and Martina McBride perform “Does He Love You?”
Watch Martina McBride perform “That’s Me”