Memphis, Tennessee is known not only for being the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock and roll — it is also the home and birthplace of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
So when Memphis musicians rallied behind the kids of St. Jude, the result was two concerts that raised thousands of dollars for the hospital and, at the same time, paid tribute to two iconic artists who died in 2016.
“Memphis Does Bowie" in January and “Memphis Does Prince,” which took place in June, brought together more than 140 musicians from nearly 30 bands to perform the songs of the two legendary performers.
Musician Graham Winchester, who organized and performed in both benefits, has had an affinity for St. Jude since a younger classmate died of neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor, in 2005.
“She was a lot younger than me, but everything she went through touched my heart and the hearts of everyone around her,” says Graham. “I guess I’ve just always been sensitive to what is happening at St. Jude and wanted to combine that with my love of music into a concert that, over time, will help make a difference.”
Graham’s commitment to St. Jude was furthered after touring the hospital soon after the first benefit. “I had no idea how amazingly the hospital is set up,” says Graham. “By touring the hospital, you can really feel how much the staff cares about the patients … it really made what they are going through so much more personal and real to me.”
The concerts organized by Graham raised more than $22,000 for St. Jude, and he is planning a third benefit in the fall. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, that support helps ensure families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
"I only hope to help (St. Jude) more and more from here on out," says Graham.