Thank you to Austin Woman Magazine for writing about Symphony of Soul!
SYMPHONY OF SOUL RAISES SUPPORT WITH GOSPEL BRUNCH
Dedicated to uplifting the spirits of people in challenging circumstances, Symphony of Soul brings “musical medicine” to Austin’s Mercury Hall.
By Jean Yoo, Photos by Brenda Ladd Photography
Symphony of Soul hosts its annual Gospel Brunch at Austin’s Mercury Hall on April 14. The brunch includes performances by the legendary American jazz and R&B singer Donna Hightower and the Faithful Gospel Singers, a silent auction featuring round trip tickets to New Orleans or a boat ride on Lake Austin, and delectable bites such as peach ginger French toast casserole. The event aims to benefit the local musicians in the organization as well as raise support and awareness of their service.Symphony of Soul is a nonprofit organization in Austin that brings “musical medicine” to people in need. Founder Leslie Hyland-Rodgers says the organization is committed to serving people who are facing challenging circumstances, while supporting local musicians at the same time.
“People don’t realize that many central Texas musicians are living near the poverty level,” she says. “We’re committed to serving those musicians.” The artists in Symphony of Soul have performed at hospitals, rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters and many more.
The story of how Hyland-Rodgers founded the organization is very personal. In 2000, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and was being treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. When Hyland-Rodgers visited, her mother asked her to sing to calm her nerves. When Hyland-Rodgers began singing, the nurses came by and left the door open to let other patients enjoy the music as well. Soon, she had a group of audiences who had fallen in love with her soothing melodies and words.
“That’s when the light bulb went off, and I realized this was the kind of work I wanted to do in my life,” she says. “I wanted to help people who were afraid, lonely and anxious.”
Hyland-Rodgers says the organization gives 95 percent of the payment to the musicians. But she says not every musician is right for the roster; they have to be personable and know how to connect with the audience. “It requires a lot of energy and a heart the size of Texas,” she says.
The musicians also benefit from the experience. Hyland-Rodgers says many musicians walk away feeling that their music matters and makes a difference in people’s lives.
“It’s very important for me to keep this mission going, for my mom and for the musicians,” she says. “And we are committed to continuing to reach as many people as possible.”
To show support for local musicians at Symphony of Soul and their mission, purchase your ticket to attend the Gospel Brunch on April 14. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at symphonyofsoul.org. For information, visit the website or contact Leslie Hyland-Rodgers at 512.699.9298.