Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
Who We Are
In 1994 Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was incorporated as a 501C3 nonprofit charity and for the past 24 years has been offering vital assistance to professional musical artists in need. Many prominent musicians, professionals and music fans have contributed enthusiastically to Sweet Relief. Benefits have been performed in venues from Miami to Seattle, with performances donated by many established and emerging artists. Nightclubs, concert halls, radio stations, internet sites, restaurants, clothing and shoe companies, music retailers, athletes, actors, corporations, foundations and music fans have all participated with Sweet Relief to assist struggling musicians.
Music has made all of our lives, and the events in our lives special and memorable. While few find fame and fortune, most musicians remain in the field for their love and passion of music. The choice an individual makes to be a professional musician is one of sacrifice. The average income across the various employment options while accounting for the part-time nature of most opportunities is less than $25,000 annually. Over 65% of professional musicians do not have health insurance. Since the mid 1960s (Post Beatles) the number of individuals choosing music as a career grew exponentially. Previous to this time most professionals were either orchestra and classical players or jazz and blues artists. The explosion of pop, rock and country career musicians over a 20-year period in the U.S. represented an artistic and cultural revolution.
While the financial hardship a musicians faces when dealing with illness or disability may be a constant, we now face a burgeoning elder population of artists with little or no resources available for such emergency situations.
Sweet Relief was founded by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams in 1993. Victoria, while on a career-making tour with Neil Young was forced to drop off mid-schedule after experiencing unexplained debilitating symptoms. A long and painful diagnostic process revealed she had multiple sclerosis.
After her diagnosis, a group of friends assembled an all-star album of Victoria’s songs, Sweet Relief, which alleviated much of her medical debt. Vic, knowing that there are many musicians like her -unable to afford medical expenses and compromised in their ability to work- donated some of her proceeds from the album to found Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
The name of the fund derives from a song of Victoria’s, Opelousas (Sweet Relief) and the fact that we do provide sweet relief in the form of financial assistance to many musicians who would otherwise be in untenable predicaments.
What We Do
General Musicians, Regional & Musical Genre Funds for Medical & Personal Welfare
As a non-profit dedicated to musicians Sweet Relief Musicians Fund has provided assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems since 1994. Grant recipients include recording artists, club and session musicians, composers & songwriters from across the country. Every musical genre is represented including pop, rock, jazz, classical, country, blues, reggae, hip hop and all styles in between. Sweet Relief has served the music community by helping musicians with medical and living expenses including insurance premiums, prescriptions, medical treatment and operative procedures, housing costs, food costs, utilities, and other basic necessities.
Even if a grant recipient has private or publicly funded health care they often require assistance. We have aided people suffering from a wide range of conditions including: Spinal Cord Injury, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Kidney and Liver Diseases, Strokes and Head injuries, Mental illness and Psychological disorders and Cardiopulmonary Illnesses. We also assist elderly musicians, regardless of the medical condition, who are experiencing financial hardship. Grants typically range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per qualifying individual. Artists applying for assistance must represent a significant professional music history and demonstrate financial hardship with accompanying documentation.
Directed Artist & Project Fundraising Initiative
Over the years, as a non-profit dedicated to musicians, Sweet Relief has developed a much needed and previously unavailable program to assist a substantially under-served constituency. Some artists face such overwhelming financial and personal distress when major illness or injury is coupled with a complete lack of, or grossly under-insured, health plan. In many of these cases, treatment for cancer, brain injury, stroke and MS can accrue expenses reaching several hundred thousands of dollars or more. Our organization takes on the role of organizer, administrator, advocate, event planner, and media partner to bring together family, friends, industry partners and fans when an overwhelming financial obstacle is encountered by the most unfortunate artist.
Sweet Relief also brings professional experience in reducing medical and insurance costs so that funds can be used to keep artists in their homes during treatment and rehabilitation. Assisting some of our Great American artists has brought national awareness to the musician’s plight. Major artists including Richie Hayward of Little Feat, Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers, Skylark of the Doobie Brothers, Garry Shider of Parliament Funkadelic, Matthew Leone of Madina Lake, Exene Cervanka of X, Mike Porcaro of Toto, and our founder Victoria Williams, have all looked to Sweet Relief for leadership, compassion, professionalism and solution.
Sadly, every week we are hearing from notable artists facing overwhelming challenges. Sweet Relief and all musicians see the benefit when these great performers are willing to share their story, accept aid and generosity, and further promote the cause of distressed musicians in America.
Sweet Relief Projects
Donors have the opportunity to assist in projects that will raise additional funds for our constituency. Music compilations, events, awareness and service campaigns are a few currently where participation is being sought.
Outreach and Resources Development Program
Sweet Relief offers assistance to all who reach out. While financial grants may not be available to every applicant, other resources information, counseling and financial services are additional options each artist may take advantage of. Information for every region in the country regarding health and welfare is available to artists who reach to Sweet Relief. Knowledge of other entertainment charities and their services is freely shared with artists. Additional resources such as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, clinics, therapists and career counselors are all utilized to bring a larger and deeper solution to the challenges our constituency faces.
Who We Help
Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides services and financial assistance for career musicians, singers, composers and arrangers. Financial grants are paid directly to medical providers, hospitals, and other third party entities. Assistance is available to artists from any musical genre located in the U.S. and Canada.
Read about Sweet Relief’s qualifying guidelines in our Get Help section.