Hope Song Nashville
WITH HOPE SONG, JOHN WESLEY SATTERFIELD AND STEVEN TEASTER ARE BRINGING THE HEALING POWERS OF MUSIC TO CANCER PATIENTS IN MEXICO.
NASHVILLE SINCE 2012.
For John Wesley Satterfield, founder of nonprofit Hope Song, music has always been central to his life. The South Carolina native has been a touring musician for over a decade and made the move to Music City in 2012. In Nashville, he became acquainted with a man named Ed Clay, who runs an integrated cancer treatment center in Mexico, and who liked to have people over often to play music.
“I think that experience is very unique to Nashville,” he says of the constant get-togethers-turned-song-sharing-sessions, where everyone present is incredibly talented. He and Ed decided to test an idea to bring this concept to the facility in Mexico, hoping to lift the spirits of the patients battling cancer.
“We tried it out and I told him that a month wasn’t going to be long enough,” John says. They’ve now been bringing musicians to Mexico for a year and a half; two or three come every week, playing songs for or with the patients going through treatment. “I realized that was the direction I wanted my life and career to go,” he says of the initial trial period. “I saw the rewards and the positive effects I’ve always believed in, but it’s tough to feel like that when you’re playing in the corner of a bar and somebody’s screaming ‘Freebird.’”
The patients of CHIPSA hospital responded immediately, and the positive effects are evident long term. “It’s amazing to actively see how healing music can be,” he says. “People always talk about the power of music and the changes it can affect, but rarely do you get to see those changes happen right in front of you. Whenever your mind is happy, your body works harder, and that’s sort of one of the foundations of immunotherapy is to stay positive,” he says. “But imagine trying to stay positive when somebody tells you you’ve got three weeks to live. Musicians are sitting around playing guitar and singing almost every day anyway, so you might as well do that in a place where it makes a difference.”
Vice President Steven Teaster, also a South Carolina native who chased the dream to Nashville, adds, “One thing that has been instilled in me through this is the attitude of the patients and their mental strength has to be so unshaking this entire time … they have to be so strong for what they’re fighting. It really does just help them to be on that positive mindset at all times.”
The program not only benefits the patients, but the artists, including talents like Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann, and American Young, come away deeply impacted by the experience as well. “A lot of the artists that we bring down there have been back three or four times,” John says. “As soon as they do it once they really want to come back.”
Though John didn’t begin his career in music therapy, he knows firsthand how emotionally profound it can be. “Music has always been my therapy,” he said. “It’s always been my outlet when I was frustrated or dealing with a failed relationship or not really sure what I was doing with my life. That has always been an outlet, since I was 12 years old.”
John and Steven are currently putting a Hope Song compilation record featuring artists that have taken the trip to CHIPSA Hospital, and continue to bring artists weekly to perform.
Learn more about Hope Song on their website: https://www.hopesong.org
Follow them @hopesongnashville