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Arts and Health as Prescriptions for the Future

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Great to join world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming for a session at the virtual 2021 Lake Nona Impact Forum. This session, held on April 22, was titled the “Arts and Health as Prescriptions for the Future.” The session gave us some time to reflect on the successful launch of the Sound Health initiative, a partnership between NIH, the Kennedy Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts. We also discussed how Sound Health has fostered growing research interest in music and the arts and its impact on health. Best of all, I got to join a world-class artist to conclude with a song. It’s a number that she and I pre-recorded and which should resonate with everyone as we work our way closer to the pandemic’s end: “Hard Times Come Again No More.”

Here Comes the Sun

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On April 8, I sent a coronavirus update to NIH staff titled “Gratitude for All You Do.” The update included a link to this video, and these words:

No one will deny that this last year has been a struggle for all of us. But now, because of your contributions, we have real reason for hope. As I’ve been known to do, I’ve turned to music to share my gratitude for all you do. This song is a different take on George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” made famous by the Beatles. As with all things, I had the help of many talented people in the creation of this music video: Carrie Wolinetz, who “COVIDized” the song lyrics; my wife Diane, who I heavily rely on for her videography skills (and most other things in life); Wole Akinso, who produced and mixed the video so that I could play both guitar and piano; and my cat Zoe, who in typical cat fashion, made a cameo appearance. I never thought I’d sing a song that has the words “herd immunity” in it, but here we are. I hope this version of the song puts a smile on your faces.

I wish the same for all who watch this video. It’s been a long, dark COVID winter.

A Song for the Holidays

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Here’s a song that I dedicated to NIH staff for the Thanksgiving holiday, adding a new verse about the COVID-19 pandemic. But the song’s message is appropriate any time of the year. So, I’m sharing it here on my blog to wish everyone a joyous holiday season.


Music in the Atrium

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Music in the Atrium
On November 10, I took a break at lunchtime to pull out my guitar and play some bluegrass with the We RNA String Band. The hour-long performance was part of the NIH Clinical Center’s “Music in the Atrium” series. These frequent concerts are provided for patients, their families, and visitors to support the Clinical Center’s environment of care and healing. Jamming away, while physically distancing, are fellow bandmembers (l-r) William Sears on fiddle, Dominic Golec on mandolin, John Tisdale on bass, and Ivan Vujkovic-Cvijin on guitar. Credit: NIH

Congratulations Class of 2020

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Staunton Graduation
Congratulations to the 200 members of the Staunton (VA) High School Class of 2020. As a proud Staunton High alumnus, class of 1966, it was my honor to offer a video commencement statement for this year’s graduates. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, each senior had to receive his or her diploma individually over a three-day period in mid-June at a nearby stadium. Graduates could have up to five family members or guests accompany them as they received their diplomas. As part of my statement, I got out my guitar, also from Staunton, and played a version of “The Gambler” by the late-Kenny Rogers that I’d reworked to touch on COVID-19 and to thank them for their sacrifices this difficult graduation season.

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