It is no surprise that many fans are inspired by their favorite artists and their music. Martina McBride supporter Sheila Jones used her inspiration as fuel when she teamed up with McBride to create the Team Music Is Love charity initiative. Inspirer reached out to Executive Director Jones and McBride to learn more about Team Music Is Love and the impact the initiative is leaving in its wake.
What is it like to know that you and your music have inspired fans to join this initiative with the goal of making communities better?
Martina McBride: It’s amazing! I’ve always believed in working together to make our communities and our world a better place. Music is so inspiring and seeing my fans respond to TMIL and show up and give so much is truly what songs like “Love’s The Only House” are all about. I love that my music inspires them. And in turn, they inspire me with how much of themselves they give.
What was the inspiration for Team Music Is Love?
Sheila Jones: In 2011 Martina released a song called “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” The song told the story of a woman battling breast cancer and how the love of friends and family helped her get through it. I was inspired by the song and decided to participate in a breast cancer walk in Nashville. I also had the idea to invite Martina’s fans to join in the walk. Incredibly, walkers came from 12 states to join our group in Nashville for that walk. Martina heard about it and, with her help, our team raised $22,000 to help the American Cancer Society.
We knew, at that point, that uniting fans and their favorite music artist was a powerful way to connect people to do good and make a real hands-on impact for good in the world.
Also, many of Martina’s songs speak to specific issues like domestic violence and hunger. We knew we could turn the lyrics of many of her songs into real projects that help people. For example, Martina’s “Love’s The Only House” inspired us to help fight hunger and host mobile food pantries feeding people in need in several cities on Martina’s recent Love Unleashed Tour.
How did you get started?
SJ: I personally grew up in a home with domestic violence. I left when I was 18 and, fortunately, I was able to go on to college and build a successful life. I really connected with Martina’s 1994 hit song “Independence Day,” which was about domestic violence. Naturally, I became a big fan of her work and continued to follow her music. Fast forward several years to 2011 when I was working in the non-profit sector and wanted to combine my love of country music and my experience in helping good causes. I went to Nashville and asked Martina if, together, we could launch an initiative that used the power of music to help people. I had already seen how her songs addressed issues and inspired people to take action. Together we felt like we could build a unique, interactive charity movement that brings music fans and supporters together to make an amazing impact.
How much has the initiative grown since you first started?
SJ: We decided after that first breast cancer walk in Nashville to take this idea on the road on Martina’s concert tours. We wanted to see if we could help good causes in many cities on her tour. And that’s what’s happened over the last few years. We’ve done volunteering projects in more than 30 states. Usually, fans will get together a few hours before the concert and converge on a cause like a soup kitchen or shelter and do a good deed. They may prepare a meal or bring donations and sometimes Martina is able to join in herself.
Team Music Is Love has also done considerable fundraising. Martina and her fans funded a breast cancer research grant at Vanderbilt Cancer Center in Nashville, TN. Martina also started a music education program providing musical instruments to girls living at an orphanage in Guatemala.
Do you have any favorite stories or events from Team Music Is Love?
SJ: This month, during the CMA Music Fest in Nashville, Martina got together with a hundred of her fans to host a mobile food pantry in a location of the town that’s known as a food desert — a neighborhood in need where many citizens don’t have transportation and access to healthy food. Martina and Team Music Is Love partnered with One Generation Away to bring in truckloads of food (more than 20,000 pounds) of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and staple food items. It was a massive food drop where we spent the morning helping a thousand people in need that attended. Martina personally greeted each family receiving food. It was incredible to see all the fans pull together to unload and bag food and the smiles that Martina was able to bring to everyone. Music has the ability to unite, to heal, to help and to make things happen.
Recently Martina partnered with The Community Foundation Of Middle Tennessee to establish the Music Is Love Fund. Can you expand on how this partnership will help the initiative?
SJ: This fund gives fans a way to make tax-deductible donations to Martina’s causes. Everyone, all around the world, now has the ability to partner with Martina on turning music into love by volunteering or making a donation to her Music Is Love fund. The fund will be used to help upcoming projects that use the power of music to make the world better. Martina also donates a portion of her concert proceeds to the fund.
How can fans get involved?
SJ: Go to TeamMusicIsLove.com and signup to receive our e-news for opportunities to volunteer alongside Martina. They can also find a link and donate to the Music Is Love fund there. And follow us! @TeamMusicIsLove on Instagram and Twitter, Facebook at facebook.com/TeamMusicIsLove.
What is your hope for the future of Team Music Is Love?
SJ: To help as many people and good causes as we can. We’d love to give as many fans as possible the opportunity to get involved and become part of this life-changing idea. We’d also love to hear from nonprofits and great causes interested in partnering with us in the cities on Martina’s tours. Email us at info@TeamMusicIsLove.com.
MM: I think the future for TMIL is so bright. There’s really no limit to what we can accomplish as far as giving back. There is certainly not a lack of need in this world. We are hoping to get more and more volunteers from all over the world so that we can do more projects and help more people. The beautiful thing about TMIL is that we aren’t aligned with one cause specifically so we can do a variety of projects and help a variety of causes. I think that’s part of what makes TMIL unique.