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Musicians bring gigs, healing to hospitalized kids in Seattle

Then 11-year-old Braydon Hutchison and guitarist Levi Ware play together during a break in Braydon's cancer treatment. Ware has streamed a number of concerts to Braydon and other hospitalized kids to help them heal. (Melodic Caring Project image)

It was an especially difficult December night in 2011 for then 11-year-old Braydon Hutchison. The young leukemia patient, quarantined at Seattle Children’s Hospital, couldn’t stop vomiting. It continued into the next day. But for two brief hours, his nausea magically subsided, thanks in large part to some musician he’d never met.

During those two hours, Braydon watched on his laptop from his hospital bed as guitarist Levi Ware performed for him in a club across the city.

“During the show in the middle, he just started crying because of the impact it had on him and the fact that people were there and said ‘Braydon we’re thinking of you,'” Ware said in an interview with Seattle Sounds.

The concert was one of the first for Ware’s nascent Melodic Caring Project, a non-profit he founded with his wife Stephanie to bring the healing power of music to sick kids.

The inspiration came about a year and a half ago when the Burlington, Washington-based musician performed at a benefit for a local girl undergoing cancer treatment at Children’s.

“It just seemed sad that there was all this enthusiasm and encouragement and love in this room that she couldn’t experience.”

So Ware got the idea to set up his laptop and stream the show to her in the hospital.

“I called her after and she was bawling,” he said of her reaction. And the Ware’s realized this was their calling.

Levi, 36, quit his job and devoted his life to the Melodic Caring Project. In the past 18 months or so, it’s grown far from its humble beginnings. What was a single computer streaming low quality audio and video has evolved into a sophisticated, three camera, high definition production beaming performances from such notable venues as the Moore, The Showbox and The Triple Door to over 100 kids in Seattle and around the globe.

“The intent, the love, the compassion really comes across to the kids on the other end,” Ware said.

A number of musicians have backed the Melodic Caring Project including Seattle standouts Damien Jurado and Ivan and Alyosha. But Ware hopes to start landing some much bigger stars soon. A number have expressed interest, including country great Brad Paisley.

There’s no reason even the biggest names wouldn’t support it. Ware does all the work, while all they have to do is call out the kids and chat with them a bit on camera during their regular shows.

“It’s very low impact on the artist, it’s very low impact on the hospitals , it’s very high impact on the kids. And that’s the intent.”

It’s not cheap and it’s not easy. The non-profit funds its productions through donations and some limited sponsorships.

“We’ve never worked harder, but we’ve never felt better about what we’re accomplishing either,” he said. “It’s breathtaking. The kids are the rock stars. The bands are their number one fans.”

The Melodic Caring Project will stage its first annual gala fundraiser Friday, June 14 at the Triple Door in Seattle.

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