The Story of Music for Seniors

by Sarah Martin McConnell
Read Sarah's Bio

Lighting Up Lives

Music for Seniors is a Tennessee nonprofit 501(c)3 arts organization enlisting Nashville-area professional, semi-professional and student musicians to provide one-hour, interactive outreach programs to senior centers, day programs, retirement communities, nursing homes and even home-bound older adults. Our programs span a wide variety of music and genres focusing on the tastes, preferences and needs of the older adults whose lives we touch. Audience engagement and interaction are built into our delivery model.

We offer musicians a ready vehicle for significant civic involvement and pay them a modest per-program stipend for sharing their time and talents.

Participating senior groups and communities receive outstanding music programs for reasonable fees assessed individually and based on a sliding scale. We can subsidize up to 100% of fees for low-income nonprofits and home-bound individuals, depending on need.

Musicians: visit our Performers page to learn more and to complete an on-line performer application.

Seniors: (service providers, residence communities and caregivers) visit our Services page to learn more about great music options for your group or home-bound individual and to complete an on-line participant application.

In addition to our outreach programs, the Music for Seniors FREE Daytime Concert Series offers a public concert every month featuring celebrated soloists and groups. These daytime events are always free and open to all older adults, their companions and caregivers.

Visit our Concerts page to see what's coming up and read about past events.

Our Story Begins

Hurricane Katrina Spawns Music for Seniors

After hours of anxious waiting, when we finally make contact with our family on the Mississippi Gulf Coast the day after Katrina hits, my sister Priscilla’s plea is frantic. “You have to come get Mom,” she tells me. “It’s chaos here. There’s no water, no electricity. And, it’s so hot. It’s miserable.”

Miraculously, my mother’s house in Moss Point, a small community situated just behind Pascagoula and several miles inland from the Mississippi Sound, is unharmed by the storm. She has lost lots of tree limbs, a few shingles and some window screens, but holed up there on high ground, she, my sister’s family and two other families weather the storm Sunday night and Monday morning.

My mother has recently been diagnosed with mid-stage Alzheimer’s. We are acutely aware of how devastating such a crisis can be for someone struggling with the challenges of a disease that, even under the best circumstances, is confusing and anxiety-provoking. I know we have to get her out of there, but how? The horrific images we are seeing on TV, along with the warnings to stay away, convince me that I am not going to be able to drive into the area and just whisk her back to Nashville. Then, we lose phone contact.

After a couple more fleeting, interrupted communications, Priscilla and I make a plan. We figure, as a resident of the area, she can drive out and back in, provided, of course, the roads are passable. So we will rendezvous in Montgomery. I tell Priscilla to drive to the first Montgomery exit she comes to on I-65 North and turn right. Go to the first gas station she sees on the right, and wait for me there. If we both leave around 8:00, we should arrive about the same time with me driving from Nashville and her coming from Pascagoula. Then we lose phone contact again.

So Wednesday morning, I take off from Nashville alone, hoping for the best and praying for that gas station to be there. When I arrive at the designated rendezvous point later than I expected, there is, indeed, a gas station, but no sign of Priscilla and Mother. After forty-five minutes of sitting, standing, trying her cell phone, pacing in front of my car and wondering if this isn’t the most harebrained scheme I’ve cooked up in a long time, my cell finally rings. It is Priscilla. She has just turned off I-65, and is driving down the highway. Where am I? I tell her to keep coming, and, yep, she sees the gas station and then, I see her car and she turns in. Hallelujah!

It’s a joyful reunion as they spill out of the car: Mom with her cat Andy; Priscilla and her 15-year-old daughter Annie; and Priscilla’s neighbor with her daughter, who is Annie’s age. They emerge tired and dirty, but smiling (and delighted to have been in the air-conditioned car for three hours instead of the 98-degree heat of the coast with no electricity.) After a brief visit, we load Mom and Andy into the car to head back to Nashville. Reluctantly, we leave the hurricane refugees in Montgomery to find a laundromat and spend one night in the luxury of a cool motel room before they head back to the hot, cramped quarters of 3872 Riverpine Drive in Moss Point.

I quickly see that my mother is exhausted and disoriented. She has no interest in my suggestion that she close her eyes and nap; she is too distressed given the dramatic events of the last few days. So, instead, we turn to music. First we listen to a CD of big band tunes (music she still dances to), then to Willie Nelson’s Stardust album, a wonderful collection of standards she grew up with and loves. We both sing along, but she’s the one who knows all the words. After Willie stops singing, I turn the CD player off and start singing all her favorite songs, one after another, with Mom still singing along: first, The Prisoner’s Song, her father’s favorite; then You Are My Sunshine, Keep on the Sunny Side, The Sewanee Song (“Oh it’s beer, beer, beer that makes you want to cheer on the old Sewanee mountain farm!”), I Come to the Garden Alone, Blue Moon, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, All of Me, Amazing Grace… After exhausting that repertoire, I start reeling off songs from Broadway musicals. Together, Mom and I sing our favorites from Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins. Between them, we laugh and talk and I tell her stories of my memories of her and my Dad and our family life unfolding to all that music.

My parents instilled a great love for all kinds of music in us six children. It was a constant backdrop to our daily existence. Even though neither were professional musicians, they both had lovely singing voices. My Dad, an Episcopal clergyman, chanted the liturgy as beautifully as I have ever heard it sung. My Mom played the piano a little, and still has an impeccable ear for harmony. At home, we had a player piano in the basement that scrolled the words of the old standards on paper reels, invoking impromptu sing-alongs. My parents also had a great collection of LPs covering a wide variety of music genres, so we often listened to Harry Belafonte, Burl Ives or Frank Sinatra, scores from Broadway musicals and classical pieces. My favorite, though, was when the whole family sang together to pass the time on long summer vacation car trips. It seems like we would sing for hours. I loved speeding down the highway in three-part harmony: Mom and Dad and baby, Mary, in front, and my three brothers and sister Priscilla leaned up against the sides of the station wagon with the seats folded down in the cavernous back-end, our legs stretched out in front of us, singing at the top of our lungs. One of the sweetest was Now the Day is Over, our twilight hymn, with my Dad taking the lovely descending harmony line in counterpoint to its simple melody. Music, for me, was a demonstration of the emotional glue connecting our family. So it was nothing new for Mom and me to sing our way back to Nashville.

We arrive home Wednesday night, exhausted. As I tuck Mom into the guest bedroom for a good night’s sleep, I reassure her again and again that everything will be just fine. My last thought is, “I hope so…” as my head hits the pillow. Then, I admonish myself for that fleeting glint of doubt and give thanks that my family is safe, that we are home safely and that Mickey, my dear husband of only two-and-a-half years, loves my mother as much as I do, and sincerely wants her with us. (Now that’s a blessing.)

I stay home with Mom on Thursday. We wash her clothes, go out to lunch, have a relaxing afternoon. Friday morning, I get up at my usual time to get ready for work. Mom has already been up for an hour; she is disoriented and agitated. (Andy-Dandy, the cat, on the other hand, is sleeping with abandon on top of the dryer in the laundry room, taking to his new digs like he owns the place.) When I tell Mom that I am going on to work and she will stay home with Mickey, she has tears in her eyes, imploring, “Do you have to go to work today?”

I sigh. “No, of course not…” I tell her. “I can stay home with you.”

“Oh, good, thank you,” she says with earnest. I hug her tightly. I call into work to tell them I need one more day off, and Mom and I spend the morning over a leisurely breakfast, drinking coffee, talking about the hurricane with all the trees down, the wind howling through the night, how hot it was afterward.

“…And all those strange men sleeping on the living room floor. I didn’t know any of them,” my mother exclaims, referring to family friends of many years.

Her speech is halting. She struggles to articulate the thoughts that I know are reeling around in her brain. I sense there is a lot going on in there; she just cannot find the words anymore. The strain of the week has taken its toll on her. She is weary, and what she really needs, I realize, is rest. So, after breakfast, I suggest that a little nap might be just the thing, and this time, she does not argue. Gratefully, she crawls back under the covers. I pull them over her shoulders, give her a kiss and, within minutes, she is sound asleep.

As I walk into the kitchen to clean up the breakfast dishes, it occurs to me that I have to find something for my mother to do during the day while she is here. Although Mickey volunteers to stay with her the two days he is home during the week, I know he cannot assume full-time responsibility for her daytime care; and it is painfully apparent that she cannot be alone. I wonder how in the world she has managed to this point in Mississippi by herself. Then I remember the last visit with her. Mickey and I had made a weekend trip to Moss Point only six months earlier to help Priscilla convince Mom she had to stop driving her car, something she did not want to do. On that visit, we found frozen dinners thawed in the refrigerator and a package of cole slaw in the freezer. From our other observations and reports from a neighbor, we were convinced then it was not going to be long before some other arrangements for Mom’s daily care would have to be made. We just didn’t anticipate a hurricane making the decision for us.

So I forget about the dishes and, instead, walk into the sunroom and sit down at the computer. I have to find a solution; I have to find someplace for Mom to go during the day where she will be with other seniors and have fun things to do. She needs companionship and stimulation. She can’t sit and watch TV, or wander around the house all day long fretting over Andy-Dandy. Nor can Mickey care for her every day; that’s just too much. So, I Google “Senior Centers, Nashville, Tennessee…”

One listing very close to our house is for Senior Citizens, Inc. on Belmont Boulevard. So, I call. It is the only call I make. After three minutes of conversation, I am certain the young woman who has answered the phone is an angel, sent “Priority.” I tell her about Mom being displaced by Katrina and our need to find something constructive for her to do each day. She tells me about the program: that the seniors come every weekday from 9:00 until 2:30; that their participants love being there; she is certain my mother would enjoy it, and she’s sure they have a place for her…when would I like to schedule an appointment to come meet with the director? Blinking back tears of gratitude, I ask if Monday would be okay.

Mickey takes Mom for her preliminary interview. His report of their meeting with Bonnie, the director, is comical. After listening to all the information about the program and nodding and smiling a lot, my mother says, “Well, I’m sure this is a nice place, but you see I live in Mississippi and I’m going home in a couple weeks, so I won’t be coming back. Thank you.”

Fortunately, we are able to convince Mom to give it a try. “Just go one day and see if you like it, Mom, what can it hurt? You can just go and try it. I mean, what else are you going to do all day? You can’t watch TV and read and just sit around. You’ll be bored silly. Just try it, one day, okay? What do you have to lose?” Reluctantly, she gives in, and Mickey drives her the next morning and picks her up that afternoon. Not knowing the van leaves at 2:15 to take most participants home, Mom is the only person left when Mickey arrives at 2:30 and is met with Mother’s panic-stricken, “Where have you been?,” Fifteen minutes of uncertainty is an eternity for her. In an unfamiliar place, convinced that she has been forgotten, she frets herself into a stew. She is not going there again. But, once more, with gentle encouragement and reassurances from Mick that he will be there at 2:00 so she is the first one picked up, she goes again on Wednesday. That night, when I ask her if she thinks she’d like to go on Thursday, she replies enthusiastically, “Oh yes, they are such nice people.”

Mom has been going to the Senior Citizen’s Inc. Adult Day Services program ever since. Except now the van picks her up and brings her home so she doesn’t have to wait for Mickey. Each morning, she gets up with a sense of purpose, looking forward to her day. Recently, over dinner, as we were talking about how fortunate it is she has such a great place to go each day, she said, simply, “I like to be busy.” She often remarks how lovely the staff is. We are so fortunate to reap the benefits from the heartfelt care they provide for their program’s participants and families. (Now, that’s a blessing too.)

Music for Seniors

After several months it is clear Mom cannot return to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. So many of the activities she had enjoyed, the water aerobics class at the hospital, her monthly bridge game, and visits from friends with time to stop by or to take her shopping, or out to lunch or a movie, are put indefinitely on hold while everybody struggles with the effort of slow recovery. We all make the decision that she will stay with us permanently in Nashville.

A couple weeks after Mom begins attending her day program, I ask the director if I can bring my guitar and dulcimer and come for an hour of music with the group. With a resounding yes, we schedule a morning program for the next week. The “show” is a big success. I sing standards and hymns, camp songs and turn-of-the-century ballads. I weave between the tables, taking requests and encouraging them all to sing along. Afterwards, walking back to my car on this beautiful September morning, I am filled with joy and enthusiasm. It was such fun. Everybody loved it, especially me. Buzzing with excitement and deeply touched by the warm connection I have just made with these delightful seniors, I decide to commit to going once a month for an hour of music with Mom and her group.

Mother, who also enjoys the warm glow of the spotlight, wants to be in on it, too, so she talks me into a tap duet as the grand finale for the October show. My mother’s dream as a young woman was to be a Rockette. Now, she was never the right height or weight, nor did she have the dancing ability to actually be a Rockette, but it is a fantasy she still holds dear. So we dust off our tap shoes, Mom in the new pair she purchased for herself after she turned 80 and me in a pair of her hand-me-downs, and work up our song-and-dance number, School Days. I am delighted to report we are an incredible hit. As a matter of fact, we are persuaded to do two encores, both School Days of course, as it is our only tap routine. But, I must say, we still do a rousing rendition, always met with a wildly enthusiastic response from the audience.

I often try to build the monthly music around a theme: love songs in February for Valentine’s Day, Irish songs around St. Paddy’s Day (Mother being an O’Malley and Mickey, a McConnell). At Christmas, my trio, The Caroling Troubadours, do festive seasonal favorites. I usually can come up with something fun. One day I went in and we all thought of our favorite Broadway musicals. I sang as many and as much of the songs from each that I knew, making up funny words to the bits I didn’t know.

Like so many others, I moved to Nashville to sing, write and perform. Like so many others, I was earning a good living as a working musician in the city I left (Dallas) when I decided that, to be really serious about the music industry, I needed to move to one of its three centers: New York, Los Angeles or Nashville. I tested the waters of both coasts and made several treks to Nashville to plug my songs. I chose Nashville because it was always so friendly and hospitable. I could land here comfortably and enjoy living in this beautiful, welcoming city. Plus, being a chicken at heart, New York and Los Angeles both scared me just a little as a single woman with very few “connections” in any of these three places, wanting to succeed in the dog-eat-dog arena of the performing arts. Although I came to Nashville just as starry-eyed as the next would-be overnight sensation, I knew I had to earn a living. So, I rolled over my skills acquired from my freelance work in the Texas oil industry to work freelance as a paralegal in the Nashville legal community, all the while pursuing my career with a vengeance.

Ten years of following my dream with determination while honing my songwriting craft, attaining a modicum of success as a performer and writer, and weathering the inevitable disappointments led me to realize I just was not happy. After some intense soul-searching I reached a decision to turn a corner I never imagined possible and pursue another career. I knew it had to be something I would enjoy, something that I could do well and that it also had to be something I felt would make a difference. All of those elements were basic to my music and performing. I have always loved to sing. It is a gift that has set me apart since I can ever remember. Moreover, I hold the belief that it is important, in one’s life, to pursue paths that nourish the heart and soul. For many years, the passion in my pursuit of music felt spiritual: it brought joy to myself and others and it was a thought-provoking conduit for introspection, self-exploration and self-actualization. However, those ideals got lost in my struggle to achieve success in the Nashville music industry somewhere along the way of the real world.

The final blow came when my mentor and dearest of friends, Walter Hyatt, died in a plane crash. I lost my passion for the fight. My identity and sense of self-worth were so inextricably tied to the artistic achievements I always knew I would attain that now, when none of it meant that much to me anymore, I couldn’t believe it myself. I just no longer had the heart to struggle for that spotlight I always was so sure would be mine. All I wanted to do was find something that I thought was worthwhile again. I hoped in that pursuit I would also find myself again. That is when I went back to school and got my master’s in social work, a decision I had already made when Walter died suddenly, but something I had not yet told him. He must have had an inkling I was moving in a new direction, though. Only a month or so before his death, and seemingly out of the blue, he turned to me during one of our writing sessions with his singularly intense gaze and said, “Sarah…don’t ever stop singing.”

I am not sure when it dawns on me, but at some point during that first year of doing the programs for Mother’s group, I have an inspired idea: wouldn’t it be great if every senior center in Nashville, every retirement facility, even home-bound seniors, had regular, monthly live programs of the music they love? And with so many talented music professionals in Music City, U.S.A., it’s a no-brainer. We have the talent; we certainly have the need, not to mention what a reciprocally rewarding experience it is. I have come to know these engaging, delightful individuals whose paths I never would have crossed otherwise. Over time, through sharing music we have become special in one another’s lives. My experience of community is so enhanced by this small, monthly commitment, my life so enriched through this endeavor, I know it will prove the same for many, many other performers and seniors. So I let the thought percolate a while and ultimately, with Mickey’s encouragement, decide to move forward.

My impulse to share my idea with Aubrey Harwell, an attorney who has put me to work on projects ever since I moved to Nashville almost twenty years ago, proved to be invaluable. His hearty endorsement and enthusiasm, and his suggestion that I meet with Janet Jernigan, the Executive Director of Senior Citizens, Inc., provided the momentum. When I met with Janet, I found her to be a like-minded social worker who shared my vision for a program dedicated specifically to taking music to seniors.

Today, I have the privilege of launching and directing Music for Seniors in cooperation with Senior Citizens, Inc.(now Fifty Forward) and its arts affiliate, Senior Center for the Arts. The program is initially funded through a generous grant from The Memorial Foundation, and we are now in the first phase of implementing an organized network of live programs by Nashville musicians. Each is paired with a facility or home-bound senior for an extended series of once-a-month programs, providing delightful entertainment to our aging population and tapping the incredible talent in our city. The program presents opportunities for musicians to work as paid professionals, doing what they love for one of the most appreciative audiences you will ever find. Perhaps most important of all, it connects us. As the participants share their music, their stories and their time each month, they impact each other’s lives in a profoundly positive way. I know it happens; I have experienced it first-hand.

My heart tells me that birthing Music for Seniors is the reason I was called to go back to graduate school. Finally, there are many common elements in both good music and good social work: to enhance and enrich, to be honest and meaningful and to find joy in individual expression and in community with others. These are the golden threads that will weave success into the fabric of this program. The silver needles are the dedicated performers who will do the work.

Our Story Continues

December, 2011

FiftyForward Music for Seniors continues to enlist additional musicians to reach an ever-increasing number of older adults in Middle Tennessee. In fiscal year 2011 we doubled our outreach compared to last year’s figures, with 45 participating musicians delivering regularly scheduled music to more than 950 older adults at 50 locations. The musicians gave a total of 558 programs, and June set a record with 71 programs!

We gained national attention during the American Health Care Association convention at Opryland Hotel in October, 2008. A video, produced by the AHCA and featured throughout the convention, spotlights Music for Seniors as an innovative program designed to improve the lives of older adults. In addition, in March, 2009, Nashville's local Fox Television station filmed a news feature story on Music For Seniors which aired on Channel 17 during the week of March 23. Both of these videos can be viewed from the homepage of this website.

The Tennessean recognized Music for Seniors' excellence in programming, in its musician participants and in its positive impact on our community when it featured, "The Magic of Music - Music for Seniors," as its extensive cover story appearing in the Life & Travel section on Sunday, October 3, 2010.

And in February, 2011, Music for Seniors was honored by the legal community when selected as a recipient of proceeds from Land Rover Race Judicata, an initiative of the Nashville Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

Senior groups, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, day services programs and individual home-bound seniors continue to experience the joy of live music program through our outreach. After the first year, though, it was clear that our original model - the same performer returning to the same senior group for an extended six-month run - did not work in every setting. So, as one would expect with a new program, we have tweaked our service model to accommodate the many, varied senior groups and communities we reach, working individually with activity directors to ensure that the music we deliver is exactly right for the seniors they serve. Exploring options together, we find what is best suited to each particular group.

Two other exceptional service components we have added in our first years of operation are visits to: 1) home-bound seniors; and 2) room-bound individuals and groups in memory care units of assisted living communities caring for those with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia.

With the help of FiftyForward Meals on Wheels, we target individuals for music visits in the home. In these instances, the same performer does visit the same senior each month, with care taken to match personalities and music preferences. These independent older adults, often living alone, are more isolated and harder to identify than those residing in communities or participating in senior groups. Nonetheless, we currently have four seniors receiving services in their homes. Additionally, with the help of generous funding provided by Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, we now serve five memory care units every month, delivering music programming to about 135 individuals living in dedicated Alzheimer’s units.

Collaborations with community partners to produce the Music for Seniors FREE Daytime Concert Series have been another exciting aspect of the program’s development. To date, we have partnered with Cheekwood, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Lipscomb University, Metro Parks, Nashville Opera and Nashville Symphony to offer a variety of concerts and other opportunities to participate in live music events across the city.

A collaboration with Belmont University School of Music, by way of two sound engineering students eager to produce an album for their senior community service project, has resulted in the recording of the first Music for Seniors album, Music We All Love (From Classical To Swing And Everything In-Between!), featuring our musicians performing a wide variety of music they perform regularly for program participants. The album is scheduled for release in May, 2012.

The success of Music for Seniors over its first years certainly has been remarkable based on our growth and on feedback we receive from the community and from our musician participants alike. So we look to a new year with the optimistic hope that we can continue to impact the lives of more and more older adults and enlist an ever-increasing number of participating musicians to share in this important outreach.

Inherent in this work, however, is the inevitable sadness of loss. Each year some of the friends we have made and laughed with, while sharing music and fun, come to the end of their lives. So it is this year, as we close on this bittersweet note: My own mother and dear companion, Marguerite Martin, died in August at age 90. Forever my champion and biggest fan, my mother’s unending support and her love of music inspired this program. So I want to share her obituary as it appeared in The Tennessean in Nashville, and in Mississippi Press Register in Pascagoula. Each Music for Seniors program is a tribute to Marge. Her legacy of kindness, of an effervescent spirit and of a boundless capacity to enjoy music, dancing and those whose paths intersected her own, endures through the work of this program. She was quite a woman, and it is quite a blessing to have been born her daughter.

Martin Marguerite Sherman O'Malley

MARTIN, Marguerite Sherman O'Malley-Born January 29, 1921, and died peacefully in her home on August 26 after a debilitating stroke ten days earlier. Marguerite (Marge) is preceded in death by her mother and father, Annie and Martin O'Malley; her beloved husband, The Rev. Harold Odest Martin, Jr. (Episcopal priest); and her daughter-in-law Nancy. She is survived by her sister, Annette Ciannella (Rev. Domenic, Episcopal priest), Long Island, N.Y.; her children Harold III (Sally) Satellite Beach, Fla.; Jonathan (Fiona) Vero Beach, Fla.; Peter, Grapevine, Texas; Sarah (Mickey) McConnell, Nashville, Tenn.; Priscilla (Ted) Battley, Pascagoula, Miss.; and Mary (Ed) Alleman, Kady, Texas; her grandchildren Alicia and Patrick, Matthew and Luke, Charles, Andrew, Will and Annie, and Abbie, Maryanne and Martin; her great-grandchildren Teagan, Aidan, Finley and Emily; and numerous nieces and nephews. Marge was born in Baltimore, Md., and graduated from Eastern High and YMCA Business School. She met her husband, Harold, at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Baltimore, where they were married. His career then took them to Green Island, N.Y.; Houston, Texas; Greenville, Miss.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Pascagoula, Miss.; and Bossier City, La., before retiring in Moss Point, Miss. Marge worked as a medical and executive secretary and physicians' office manager. Her philosophy, "Bloom where you are planted," reveals her sunny, optimistic nature. She was a loving wife and a devoted, fun-loving mother and grandmother. She had a strong faith and abiding love for her church and its community. Sweet and empathetic, with an easy smile, a great sense of humor and an open and caring nature, Marge cultivated close friendships with people of all ages. She was tender and patient with children, attentive to the elderly and loved cats and dogs, with many adopted as family pets over the years. An award winning author of short stories and poetry, she was an avid storyteller, reader and letter writer. She enjoyed art, drawing, painting and flower gardening, and participating as a local thespian in Pas-Point Players little theater. Talented in culinary arts and a gracious hostess, Marge also loved to entertain. Her home reflected her artistic sensibilities, her love of family and her appreciation of all things beautiful. As a young mother, Marge served as leader for her sons' Cub Scout troop and was an active participant in the PTA. Throughout her adult life, she enjoyed volunteering at the local hospital, playing bridge with friends and served many years as a Daughter of the King and as an associate of St. Mary's Convent, Sewanee, Tenn. After retirement, her favorite activities included attending movies, theater, opera and symphony concerts on the Gulf Coast and laughing with her friends in their water aerobics class in Pascagoula. At age 84, displaced by Hurricane Katrina just six weeks after being diagnosed with mid-stage Alzheimer's, Marge moved to Nashville to live with her daughter Sarah and devoted son-in-law Mickey. She quickly made new friends, capturing the hearts of all at FiftyForward Adult Day Services program which she attended daily. Based on her love of life and enduring passion for music and dancing (Boy, could she jitterbug - and was still tap dancing at age 87!), Marge inspired the not-for-profit program, Music for Seniors, launched in Nashville in 2007 by her daughter Sarah. Services will be held on Thursday, September 1, at St. Pierre's Episcopal Church, Gautier, Miss. Visitation with the family will be from 11 a.m. until noon, followed by the funeral service with Holy Eucharist, and committal at Gautier Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to Music for Seniors, in care of FiftyForward, 174 Rains Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37203.

Moving On Up!

Music for Seniors launched July 1, 2007 as a program affiliate of FiftyForward, a long-standing and outstanding Nashville-based nonprofit recognized as the premier provider of innovative and comprehensive services for adults 50+ in Middle Tennessee. We will forever be grateful to Janet Jernigan, FiftyForward's Executive Director, and to the entire staff of this fine agency. Believing in our vision, they offered Music for Seniors a solid foundation of nonprofit management skills, fiscal oversight and wise counsel, while also providing us immeasurable opportunities for wide-spread community exposure, funding and recognition.

July 1, 2014 marks another beginning for Music for Seniors as we start operations under our own 501(c)3 IRS designation as a stand-alone nonprofit arts organization. We move forward with our exciting work benefitting from the experience we have gained over seven successful years. From a start-up program enlisting three musicians to deliver a monthly program to two senior centers, to a robust operation scheduling and delivering an average 57 programs - through outreach and public concert events - to over 1,200 seniors monthly at 50 area locations … Music for Seniors continues sharing live music and lighting up lives!