Local Current Blog

The Current Presents: Music and Healthcare

Nonprofit workers Kate O'Reilly, Laura Zabel, James Baker, and Myles Kennedy visited the Current to tape a special roundtable discussion on healthcare and music. (Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR)


Healthcare has become a huge issue for musicians in Minnesota. Pick up a copy of the weekly paper and scan the concert calendar listings and it seems that there are at least a few benefit concerts happening every weekend, many of which benefit artists who either don’t have insurance or simply can’t afford the cost of their illnesses or catastrophic injuries.

It’s something that makes the Minnesota music community so unique, with artists jumping at the chance to help one another through a crisis, but it also highlights a stark reality: for a self-employed artist, a health problem can not only interrupt their career, but it can be financially devastating.

On this week’s episode of the Current Presents, I set out to explore some of these issues at the intersection of healthcare and music.

Here’s an overview of what’s included in the show:

  • A check-in with Stef Alexander, who most people know as the Rhymesayers recording artist and Doomtree rapper P.O.S., to find out how he’s doing as he waits for his much-needed kidney transplant, and to learn more about how he raised over $42,000 by asking his fans for help covering his medical expenses. The transcript of that chat is archived here.
  • A conversation with Slim Dunlap’s family members and friends about the big Songs for Slim series, which is raising money for the guitarist and songwriter’s care in the aftermath of his stroke last year. You can read the written version of that story here.
  • A closer look at Zach Sobiech’s song “Clouds,” which has raised enormous amounts of money for cancer research in the wake of the young songwriter’s death. The written version of that piece is here.
  • And a roundtable discussion with a panel of experts from the local music community who work behind the scenes to connect the dots between artists and the healthcare they need. Our panelists included Laura Zabel, the executive director of Springboard for the Arts; Kate O’Reilly, who works independently to organize benefit shows; and Myles Kennedy and James Baker, two First Avenue employees who founded the Twin Cities Music Community Trust.

Listen to all 70 minutes of the Current Presents: Music & Healthcare right here.

  1. Listen The Current Presents: Music & Healthcare