SmartMusic Q&A with Sing Me a Story

Sing Me a Story

Sing Me a Story’s mission is to serve deserving families in need through the imaginative stories of their children and the power of music.

With the help of songwriters, we create music inspired by the creative stories of children. These songs and stories remind us all of how much we have in common, raise awareness and financial aid for nonprofits around the world and, most of all, provide families with an unforgettable experience that brings joy and healing.

Tell us, who is Sing Me a Story?

Sing Me a Story is a 501(c)3 based out of Nashville, TN, that gives deserving children in need the opportunity to write/illustrate stories about anything they want. Sing Me a Story distributes those stories to songwriters who turn them into songs and send them back to the kids. See how it works in this piece USA Today did on SMAS with Michael Franti.

How did Sing Me a Story get started?

In May of 2010, a beautiful girl moved in next door to a 27 year old singer songwriter named Austin in Nashville, Tennessee. Her name was Sara and she was a Child Life Specialist at a local children’s hospital. Quickly, Austin began finding every reason he could to “run into” Sara outside their respective houses. Finally, Sara encouraged Austin to take his guitar and volunteer at the hospital where she worked. In an attempt to impress the cute girl next door, Austin was signing up to volunteer the very next day.

In working with the kids on writing music, Austin would often ask for the children to simply tell him a story. From there, they would create stories and songs about everything from the monster under the bed, Dad saving the day, boys versus girls and of course, teenage love. In January of 2011, Austin decided he wanted to bring this opportunity to other songwriters and to kids all over the world who needed a boost. From those beginnings, The Sing Me a Story Foundation™ was born.

Austin had always had a love affair with music but never before had he witnessed the power of music to heal as he did in the rooms of that children’s hospital. Furthermore, never had he known a love like the one he shared with the girl who moved in next door. On October 5th, 2013, the two were married in Nashville surrounded by friends and family. The Sing Me a Story Foundation now has thousands of songwriters and is working with hundreds of organizations serving children in need throughout the world. In short, that’s the beginning of our story.

Sing Me a Story has recently expanded their programming to include work within the music education space. Headed by Autumn Dobbeck, Sing Me a Story’s Operations Manager, the Sing Me a Story Composition project strives to connect music education students at every level to create something unique, together. 

Here’s the SMAS Composition Process:

  • Through a local nonprofit, a deserving child in need within the community is identified to write and illustrate a story about anything they want.
  • The story is then turned into a composition by a commissioned or volunteer composer.
  • The composition is then learned by a local high school or professional ensemble and performed live for the child as part of a live concert.

To date, Sing Me a Story has facilitated 7 unique composition experiences for children in need. They are on course to continue this programming in 2023 and hope to grow substantially. 

How does Sing Me a Story work?

Children involved with organizations serving children in need are given the opportunity to write and illustrate stories about ANYTHING they want.

Those stories are then distributed to our SMAS Songwriters through our website, who view the stories, turn them into songs based on the ideas presented in the stories, record them and send them back to the children by uploading them back to the site.

SMAS Jukebox Campaigns are then created for each song uploaded in an effort to raise money for the Partnering Organizations and Sing Me a Story. When fans contribute to the SMAS Jukebox Campaigns, they receive the song as an Mp3 with their donation receipt. 

How can we hear the songs?

You can find recordings on our website.

How does one become a songwriter for Sing Me a Story?

If you are interested in joining SMAS as a songwriter, feel free to sign up here.

Are there opportunities to volunteer? 

Sign up to help facilitate a story-writing session with the children we serve here.

Also, all our songwriters are volunteers. If you are interested in joining SMAS as a songwriter, feel free to sign up here.

How can people support Sing Me a Story?

If you can’t participate directly, it would help us tremendously if you could follow or like us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

Also, if you would like to donate to Sing Me a Story, you can do so here.

Where can people learn more?

You can learn more about Sing Me a Story on our website, or click here to learn about our mission.

Autumn is a University of Illinois graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. She first became involved with Sing Me a Story in 2018 as an intern, and since then, has continued to fall in love with Sing Me a Story’s mission. Autumn grew up in a family full of musicians and artists, and is grateful to work for an organization that encourages her to use the arts to inspire and help others.

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