The Musicians

Family and Friends Say… | Professional Care Providers Say… | Volunteer Concert Liaisons Say…

What the performers say…

(To protect their privacy, the names of the recipients have not been included)

I literally just got home from a gig on the road and sat down to casually play “Someone To Watch Over Me”; a song that I’d worked up a version of for Lee. As I sat quietly strumming it here in my office, I opened this email and received these wonderful photos. Then I read the news of his passing. Again, I am so struck by the beauty, the delicate nature of our timing, that brought Lee and I together. I’d mentioned this coming week as the first option, but then noted that I did have Friday evening open. I have Swan Songs to thank for this very important exchange of love and soulfulness that has given deeper meaning to my career as a musician. I am so grateful to have been a witness to Lee’s dancing feet, his arms grabbing for the beat and to have been able to not only lift his spirit, but also be lifted in return. To see him respond to the music is what we musicians live for. Our work is often very internal, very solitary, and to share it with those who connect is the greatest joy. To recognize that it is touching someone’s heart, soul and body is the gift we receive in turn for offering what we have as artists. Performing for Lee was a sincere pleasure and it carries even more weight knowing that the music I created was a part of his life at a time when, as I can only speculate, his body and soul felt it at the deepest level. Many thanks for allowing me this gift. I know his whispered “thank you” and shaking my hand when we were taking pictures was a lot to muster from a tired body that carried his spirit through a long life. I’ll cherish the experience, as I do all of these Swan Songs interactions, forever. My sincere condolences to Lee’s family.

Woody Russell

Hi Kate, It’s 2am and I should be getting some sleep. But I wanted to write you first and say thank you for thinking of us. I think it went very well. Traffic was monstrous, but we managed to get started around 6. The director of services (I can’t remember her name), informed me that the patient had to go to the hospital, but Revital said we should stay and play for the other people there, some of whom were from New Orleans. It turns out that the patient was still there, but the ambulance was coming. We started, and the paramedics came in. On the 2nd or 3rd song, they wheeled the patient out while we were playing. As he passed me (I was standing near the door in the living room area), we looked at each other. I was playing. He was enduring. He gave me the nod. He liked it. I was still playing, but I put up my left hand, and we did a fist bump. He nodded again. I did too. And then we all followed him and the paramedics out the door, parade style, still playing, with them in the lead. We kept playing (it might have been Red River Valley. I forget) as they got in to the ambulance. He gave a small wave, and we kept playing until they pulled away. Then we paraded back inside, finished the song, and kept playing until Revital said something like “how about 2 more?” We stayed for a bit and talked to the residents and the people working for a little while, and then took off.

It was a wonderful evening. We were all glad to be there. I’m glad we got the opportunity. Thank you Kate. Sincerely, Oliver

Oliver Steck & Aunt Ruby’s Sweet Jazz Babies

When Christine first told me about Swan Songs and what she was trying to do, I thought what a wonderful, caring and good project it sounded in every way. However, when she told me that a lady, terminally ill with cancer, had requested that she would enjoy hearing some of my songs, I felt a mixture of apprehension and curiosity.howtohelp_001_1024

I confess to being a bit fearful that the whole scenario of my singing for a dying person would be uncomfortable, scary and depressing. As it turned out, I could not have been more wrong – the spirit of the person involved, her appreciation for the songs, the warm & cozy group of her friends gathered around, all made it one of the shortest and most satisfying 30-40 minutes I can remember. She was anything but self-pitying; rather her sense of humor and energy showed through her physical weakness and made her a perfect audience.

Clearly she enjoyed the experience, which put me at ease, and her peaceful acceptance of her condition quickly dispelled any embarrassment or discomfort on my part.

I urge as many Austin musicians as possible to support and be part of Swan Songs. Bless you, Christine.”

Ed Miller – KUT DJ; singer/songwriter


After traveling around and singing to people in theaters and clubs I have to say that the hour I spent in that living room gave me more of a sense of purpose than my usual stage show. Christine made it so easy for me to do a small thing that had an immediate impact of joyful family togetherness. It was an honor to be included in that.”

Eliza Gilkyson – singer/songwriter


artists_001_1024Christine Albert and her group have come up with a wonderful idea for giving to someone what might be their last opportunity to experience something that was a significant part of their life and probably one of their passions in their days of yester-year.

Being able to play bagpipe music, which I consider wonderful and inspiring, is one of my passions in life; and probably the greatest part of that passion is the experiences I have had — like the one I had with (the recipient) and his family seemed so grateful that I made the effort to be there to play for him; something that I considered a real pleasure to do, and not at all “an effort”.

I left there knowing that I had met some wonderful people – as well as a fellow piper – and believing that I had contributed to a wonderful cause.”

Nick Classen – Bagpipes for All Occasions


Wow! That gig today felt good! Thanks!”

Slim Richey

I was so blessed recently to do another Swan Songs performance.  What a wonderful experience to sing with someone during the holidays.  The client’s daughter was able to come and it just meant so much to her.  Thank you, again, for the opportunity!”

Evelyn Page


Thanks again for all you’re doing here. It’s great to hear the response and that my music helped.  Still a powerful experience for me.  So thank you again for the opportunity!”

Marc Gunn

Christine, we had a wonderful time.  They were tapping their feet and singing along. I’d love to do it again when someone wants old-time music.”

Elizabeth Bradshaw

Last weekend, I had the privilege and honor to be the accompanist for Kathy Blanchard at a concert.  I was not quite sure what to expect.  After meeting family and friends and doing the concert, I left with a feeling that is almost indescribable.

To be together with friends and family and to enjoy the gift of music, knowing that it might be the last time to do so, is such a wonderful and beautiful idea.  This makes far better sense than seeing these people during the funeral of the ill person.

I have shared this with my choir director at church in hopes that others may share their gift in such a beautiful setting.  I hope to be able to do this again.”

Sonja Vandivier


Thanks for having me, Christine.  It was a moving experience for me and I am so glad you received positive feedback.  I am proud I could be included in the Swan Songs project and hope to be called upon again.”

Van Wilks