Frontman, Ken Block, reflects on his charities biggest event taking place in the band’s hometown for the first time, and raising over 200k
Lyrics For Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. Sister Hazel frontman, Ken Block, and his band mates founded Lyrics For Life in memory of Ken’s younger brother, Jeffrey, who ultimately lost his four-year battle with cancer that started at age 14. The charity unites musicians and celebrities for concert events, auctions, and other fundraising efforts. The monies raised are donated to groups that are working to find a cure, as well as those aiming to enrich the lives of patients and their families. From research to summer camps and family support groups, we are surrounding this disease and conquering it from every angle.
Last month, Sister Hazel, hosted Lyrics For Life — “An Evening Of Making Music Matter” in their hometown, Gainesville, FL. This marked the first time in the organizations 15-year history, that the band hosted in their hometown. The lineup included special acoustic songwriter in the round performances by Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain, and Emerson Hart of Tonic. The event raised over $200k for the non-profit charities Lyrics For Life’s Camp Hazelnut and Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, as well as Stop Children’s Cancer in Gainesville — putting the charity over the two million mark in funds raised since the inception of the charity in 2002.
Artists participate in Lyrics For Life often by donating handwritten lyrics to one of their songs on anything from a simple sheet of paper to a surfboard to some other unique item. They are then put up for auction at one of our Lyrics For Life events. At the Gainesville event, attendees bid in a star-studded silent auction featuring handwritten lyrics by some of the industry’s biggest names including James Taylor, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, and more.
Here, Ken Block shares with Artist Waves — the emotion of this all coming together for the first time, in his hometown of Gainesville.
What did it mean to you personally to have this L4L event in your hometown of Gainesville?
The Lyrics For Life benefit concert was a true homecoming for all of us in the Sister Hazel family. In the 15 years since the band and I founded L4L to combat children’s cancer in memory of my little brother, Jeffrey, we’ve hosted events across the country, but this event was our first L4L event at home in Gainesville and it was incredible.”
There’s nothing like going back to our roots and connecting with the people who shaped who we are as artists. To be able to use our vehicle to have such a powerful impact in our own community is huge. It was extremely emotional for me. My brother spent his whole life in Gainesville before losing his own cancer battle at 18 years old. He loved our hometown and the people there loved him too.
How did the event this year and the lineup come together?
We have wanted to do an event in Gainesville for years and just couldn’t quite get the stars to align. Earlier this year we connected with a few friends from the community who shared our vision. After that it was a no brainer! Big thanks to Rich and Carissa Blaser, Dr. Cheryll Hayes, and Keith Watson. They’re superstars incur community! We wanted to bring an event to Gainesville that was different than anything people had seen before. A quick call to our buddies Edwin McCain and Emerson Hart from Tonic — and I knew we had the recipe for a great night.
Do you have any favorite or most memorable moments from the show?
I think more than it being about one moment — its about the evening as a whole. Our goal is to take people on a ride. Great music, powerful storytelling, big belly laughs, and a few tears as we remind people in profound ways why we are all there.
What is your process in determining who you partner with in allocating some of the proceeds?
Cancer is a multifaceted foe — so we bring a team of people and organizations t0 meet these challenges. Our Body-mind-and spirit approach to helping these families includes directly funding cancer research through STOP! Children’s Cancer (Body), giving financial assistance to families in need through The Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation (piece of Mind), and providing full scholarships for kids and families to attend “Camp Hazelnut” — a three day weekend at camp for kids and their families dealing with a cancer diagnosis (Spirit).
For more information on Lyrics For Life including how you can get involved, visit: LyricsForLife.org
Sister Hazel’s new record Water, will be available everywhere on February on February 9, 2018. To pre-order visit SisterHazel.com
Catch Sister Hazel on tour starting December 31st in Mobile, AL. For a full list of dates click here.
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra