The Recording Academy® is best known for its annual GRAMMY Awards®. In 1989, this entity established MusiCares®, its charitable health and human services organization, which provides a safety net of critical assistance for members of the music community. Often referred to as the Red Cross of the music industry, MusiCares® provides confidential services and resources that cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies.
To understand the need for a nonprofit such as MusiCares, let’s look at the life story of Woody Herman, a Milwaukee born jazz artist, who began performing as a child singing in vaudeville. At the age of eleven, Herman had mastered the saxophone and garnered a substantial amount of professional experience and credibility, performing with the big bands of Gus Arnheim, Tom Gerun and Harry Sosnik. In 1934, Herman joined the Isham Jones Orchestra; and after the band broke up, Herman utilized the remaining talented members to construct his own orchestra. His career continued to flourish, and he soon became recognized as one of the most influential band leaders of his time, producing tunes that are still applauded today, such as “At the Woodchopper’s Ball,” “Early Autumn” and “Four Brothers.”
Sadly, despite a notable career spanning more than 60 years and which included countless legendary contributions to the music industry, Herman passed away virtually homeless and alone. While his influence on the music industry was greatly appreciated, music industry professionals were outraged that someone of his stature, particularly someone who had contributed so much to the world of music, could pass away in such tragic circumstances.
Stories like Herman’s, which illustrate the heartbreaking health and financial hardships faced by too many members of the musical community, prompted the Recording Academy to establish the MusiCares Foundation more than 25 years ago. MusiCares®’ Senior Executive Director Debbie Carroll explained that the circumstances of Herman’s unfortunate passing led “. . . a number of musicians and industry professionals, to come together to take a stand, noting that no one in our music family should end up in this type of situation.”
MusiCares® offers members of the music community multiple programs and services, including emergency financial assistance for basic living expenses, medical expenses, psychotherapy and substance abuse treatment. The foundation also offers nationwide educational workshops on a variety of subjects, including financial, legal, medical, and substance abuse issues. In collaboration with healthcare professionals, programs provide preventative services such as flu shots, hearing tests, hearing protection, and medical and dental screenings.
MusiCares also serves as one of the leading organizations helping with addiction. The MusiCares MAP Fund® allows access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community. Staffed by qualified chemical dependency and intervention specialists, MusiCares offers Safe Harbor Room® support. Sponsored in part by the Bohemian Foundation, this program provides a network for those in recovery, or interested in recovery, while they are participating in the production of televised music shows and other major music events and festivals. MusiCares holds free weekly addiction support groups in various locations around the country where members of the music industry discuss how to best cope with the issues surrounding the recovery process. The MusiCares Sober Touring Network is a database of individuals across the United States who are qualified to bring musicians to recovery support meetings while on the road.
Each year, the MusiCares Map Fund Benefit Concert recognizes a prominent music professional who has overcome addiction. Last year, renowned Motown singer and songwriter, Smokey Robinson, received the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award for his dedication and support of the MusiCares MAP Fund as well as for his commitment to helping others with the addiction recovery process. This past June, the Recording Academy and MusiCares honored the multi-GRAMMY, award-winning musician, Adam Clayton, for overcoming his longtime battle with substance abuse. The foundation has previously awarded iconic artists such as Chester Bennington, Dave Gahan, Ozzy Osbourne and Pete Townshend.
Research has indicated that women are among the fastest growing segment of alcohol and drug users within the United States. While addiction is an equal opportunity disease, studies show that women become addicted differently than people of other genders, engage in substance abuse for different reasons, progress faster, recover differently from people of other genders, and relapse for different reasons as well. Studies on the impact of substance abuse on women have shown that issues related to hormones, menstrual cycles, fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding could influence women’s struggle with drug use. Additionally, women have also described unique cultural and social reasons for using drugs: controlling weight, fighting exhaustion, coping with pain, and self-treating mental health problems. Women are also more likely to self-medicate to cope with uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety, stress and depression.
Last year, addiction claimed the lives of approximately 55,000 individuals within the United States, a statistic that has become increasingly prevalent among women. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence stated that up to 4.5 million women in the US over the age of twelve suffer from substance abuse; over 200,000 American women die due to alcoholism and drug dependence; and there are approximately 4 million women in need of treatment for addiction. Within the music industry, numerous female music icons and legends have died prematurely due to their ongoing battles with addiction or other circumstances.
Prior to the 1990s, the majority of research on substance abuse and dependence focused primarily on men. For years, large numbers of alcohol and drug-dependent women remained hidden within the culture. This culture of hiding addiction began to shift when former First Lady, Betty Ford, publicly acknowledged her own struggle with alcohol addiction. Her courage in speaking openly regarding her addiction served as a turning point in our history. At the 2010 MusiCares Map Fund benefit concert, MusiCares honored Betty Ford for her spirited effort to bring attention to this growing epidemic amongst women. The evening’s theme of women in recovery was inspired by data from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation, which had indicated that only 8% of women who have a problem with addiction seek help.
While addiction continues to be a growing epidemic, many individuals remain unaware of the severity of the issue. Addiction is a complex disease. It is imperative to understand that gender may affect susceptibility, recovery and the possibility of relapse.
Addiction among women continues to grow as a serious issue with unique challenges. Sadly, studies indicate that nearly 7 million women within the US are in need of treatment; however, these women are not receiving treatment for various reasons, including not knowing where to find help, fearing negative effects in their employment, and lack of health insurance.
Today, addiction and substance abuse remain an increasing issue within the music industry, and members of this industry continue to experience financial, personal and medical crises. MusiCares provides a place for music industry professionals to access help in times of need through a phone call to one of its toll-free numbers, followed by a very brief application. Eligibility consists of documented employment in the music industry for at least five years or credited contribution to six commercially released recordings or videos. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance, please contact one of the MusiCares toll free numbers listed below or visit www.musicares.org.
MusiCares West Region and MusiCares® MAP Fund
3030 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Toll-free Help Line: 1.800.687.4227
MusiCares South Region
1904 Wedgewood Ave.
Nashville, TN 37212
Toll-free Help Line: 1.877.626.2748
MusiCares East Region
104 West 40th St., Suite 400
New York, NY 10036
Toll-free Help Line: 1.877.303.6962
Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy®, MusiCares® provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. www.musicares.org