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Brooke Eden (left)

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Just What The Doctor Ordered

Nashville-based Musicians On Call delivers the healing power of music nationwide.

Inherently, music is a two-way street. Whether it’s for entertainment, spiritual, social, or recreational purposes, there’s something of value in it for the musician and the audience.

The same can be said for music in a medical setting. And a Nashville-based organization is spreading that message nationwide.

“I understand that music actually helps people heal,” says Pete Griffin, president and CEO of Musicians On Call (MOC). “I’ve seen it firsthand with musicians playing in hospitals. There are people who are hurting and need it. We’ve played for victims of shootings and people in hospice care who were not expected to make it through the day. It motivates us to do as much as we can, as quickly as we can.”

Musicians On Call was founded in 1999 by two music industry professionals, Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary, shortly after both experienced the loss of loved ones. As a way to pay tribute, they enlisted musicians – including Bruce Springsteen and Wynton Marsalis - to come to the hospital to bring joy and to say thanks.

Patients would come to the lobby to watch the performances, prompting caregivers to ask them to go room-to-room for patients who were unable to leave their beds.

Public service has always been at Griffin’s core. He’s held executive roles with Big Brothers Big Sisters, veterans causes, and currently serves as a rescue diver and swift water rescue technician with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management.

He joined MOC as president and CEO in 2014 after nearly a decade in the music industry, including a stint at MTV where he led the network’s Emmy-winning community service efforts. Since moving its headquarters to Nashville in 2015, Griffin has led MOC to where it has a presence in all 50 states and leads a team that has delivered music’s healing powers to more than 1 million patients, families and caregivers.

“I’ve always felt that there’s a lot of opportunity to merge music and entertainment in philanthropy,” he says. “MOC tries to leverage the healing power of music to improve the lives of those who are experiencing some of life’s toughest challenges.”

Dozens of celebrity musicians from every genre and demographic have volunteered with MOC. But it’s the legions of volunteer working-class musicians and non-musician guides who make the calls on a day-to-day basis.

Singer-songwriter Sarah Harralson of Bellevue has been a MOC volunteer for eight years. She says she knew the experience would be impactful for the patients but had no idea how it would affect her.

“I had been in Nashville for a couple of years and was still trying to find my way as a musician,” says Harralson. “I heard about Musicians On Call and it helped me find my mission as an artist: to give healing music to those who need it most. It’s very gratifying and I try to volunteer at least once or twice a month.”

Harralson says that there are always memorable and meaningful moments.

“I went into a young male adult’s room and he was feeling kinda down and was fine with whatever I wanted to play,” she says. “So I played ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ by Elvis Presley. He teared up and told me that earlier in the day he didn’t feel like he wanted to live anymore. But that song in that moment gave him hope for the future and he was ready to take on life again. Just a simple song can get people through a difficult time.”

MOC is for non-musicians as well. Donald Phillips lives in the Bellevue area and has been a volunteer guide since responding to an ad on social media seven years ago.

“I’ve always worked in an in-patient hospital setting on the corporate side, but MOC is patient-centric and a way to give back,” he says. “And to be here in Nashville, it’s a fusion of two things that I love.”

In his role, Phillips escorts the artist from room-to-room and drops in to ask if the patient would like to hear a song. “For compliance purposes, I’m actually certified as an official volunteer of the hospital. When I enter the room, the patient sees my hospital badge,” says Phillips. “I enter the room alone, tell the patient about MOC and ask if they want to hear a song. Then I’ll introduce the musician.”

Phillips encourages anyone interested in volunteering to reach out to MOC. “If you have that calling to serve in a hospital or clinical space, you won’t regret your decision.”

Musicians On Call is in a growth phase and is recruiting new volunteer musicians and guides. Those who are interested should visit

Musicians On Call has partnerships with Monroe Carrel Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Tri-Star Centennial, the Nashville VA, Alive Hospice and many others throughout Middle Tennessee. The organization enters its 25th year in 2024 and will announce plans for a major celebration to mark the occasion.

  • Brooke Eden (left)
  • Kalie Shorr (right)
  • Musican, Actor and MOC volunteer Charles Esten snaps a selfie with the healthcare providers at a Nashville hospital.
  • Sarah Harralson
  • Volunteer Guide Donald Phillips (left) and volunteer musician Greg Oliveras
  • Pete Griffin, President and CEO of Musicians On Call.
  • Musicians On Call president and CEO Pete Griffin (right) presents the Leadership in Music Golden Ukulele to Sam Hollander on December 11, 2023 in New York City.