Austin’s music industry greats unite for Swan Songs benefit show

For an organization providing end-of-life care, there’s certainly plenty of new life at Austin nonprofit Swan Songs this year. The organization announced a new executive director, Shannon Moody, on July 21, and released tickets for the 2022 benefit concert, Swan Songs Serenade. The concert, cocktail party, auction and dinner (from $200 per person) will take place Oct. 23 at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, for its first in-person return since the pandemic began.

It’s a multi-faceted effort from some of Austin’s top creative contributors: Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma producer Adrian Quesada and his wife, multi-talented community leader Celeste. Quesada, act as chairmen, while KUTX radio host Laurie Gallardo and former KVUE reporter Judy Maggio share emcee duties. Bob Schneider, seven-time Musician of the Year at the Austin Music Awards, is the featured performer for both this event and individual Swan Songs requests.

Finally, Moody began her tenure by helping Swan Songs founder and CEO Christine Albert plan the event, eventually making way for Albert’s other project: making Swan Songs programs available outside of Austin.

The main program in question is Swan Songs’ “Musical Last Wishes” offering, which hosts a private concert for Austinites of all ages in the critical stages of terminal illness. Friends, family and caregivers can join in to enjoy the intimate performance in the benefactor’s favorite style of music – or even a specific favorite musician – often bringing back old memories and shared cultural experiences.

“I know everyone believes in the power of music, without sounding too sappy, but that’s why we’re all here at the end of the day – because we believe in the mission of Swan Songs and the power of this what music can do, throughout life, up to these final stages,” Adrian Quesada said in a press release. “I really appreciate the commitment to this event and this mission.”

Moody’s has experience supporting programs as they settle in new communities and helped bring the nonprofit Jeremiah Program for Single Moms to Austin from Minneapolis. And Albert has experience scaling his own organization – after all, it was his voice that was requested in the early 90s by a dying fan, sparking the idea for Swan Songs. Since its official creation in 2005, the organization has given more than 1,400 concerts which financially support the musicians, without burdening the fans who request it.

“After two years of Swan Songs virtual serenades, it is a joy to be planning this in-person event, especially alongside our new Executive Director, Shannon Moody,” Albert said in the statement. “Shannon brings extensive nonprofit leadership experience that will ensure Swan Songs continues to thrive. … We are fortunate to have his passion, his community connections and his strategic leadership.

Swan Songs Serenade will take place on October 23 at the Four Seasons Austin. More information on the organization and the tickets are available on swansongs.org.

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