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Each month we spotlight a local nonprofit that's in need of help. It's a way to connect our listeners with charities that make an impact.

Get Involved Spotlight: Swan Songs

From Swan Songs, this month's Get Involved spotlight nonprofit:

Swan Songs mission is to fulfill musical last wishes by organizing private concerts for individuals with a terminal illness or nearing the end of life. At their request, a favorite style of music or local musician is brought directly to the home or healthcare facility. The concert allows the recipient, family and friends to focus beyond the illness and come together through music. 

Here in the “Live Music Capital of the World” we are fortunate to have a robust and diverse music community to turn to for the most specialized request. From Lithuanian accordion to Supertramp, Austin musicians have always delivered with heart and soul. Swan Songs recognizes that the talent, expertise and professionalism of the musicians are an invaluable part of our success. Therefore, musicians are compensated for their time. In this way, Swan Songs fulfills a dual mission – to bring comfort and meaning through music and to support musicians in Austin.

Since our founding as a 501(c)3 in 2005, Swan has facilitated close to 550 requests and we are on track to organize 200 concerts in 2017 alone. Our infrastructure has constantly evolved to meet the demand and support from volunteers has been key. 

Swan Songs has many ways to “get involved!” The three primary volunteer opportunities are Concert Liaison Team, Event Team and Admin Team.

A Concert Liaison attends the private concerts as Swan Songs’ representative, to support the musicians and family and ensure a positive experience for everyone involved. It is important to be comfortable around the dying process and to be able to hold steady in an emotionally charged environment. Training is required for the Concert Liaison Team.

Concert Liaisons are especially needed in the following areas – Highland Lakes communities; Hays, Bastrop and Williamson Counties.

A member of the Swan Songs Event Team can choose an area of interest – for example, collection of auction items, check in at the event, assembling event materials, design and decorating of the venue, hospitality, day of set up and tear down, etc. The 2017 Swan Songs Serenade with Ruthie Foster, Swan Songs annual fundraising gala, takes place October 18 at Riverbend Centre for the Arts and there are plenty of opportunities to help.

Swan Songs moved into its first office in June 2016 and as the activity has increased, so have the administrative tasks. We are looking for Admin Team volunteers to assist with data entry and management, especially individuals who are familiar with Excel, Word, Mail Merge or Donor Perfect, as well to assist with mailings and other administrative projects.

Are you a social media whiz? Swan Songs could use some help managing our Facebook and Twitter accounts – help us spread the word!

The requests that Swan Songs receives are diverse and eclectic but some of the most popular are Big Band music, gospel, hymns and Mariachi. We especially need musicians who are proficient in these styles.

And, of course, Swan Songs is grateful for your financial support. Your contributions empower us to expand our reach, knowing that we can meet the needs.

Thank you, so much, for your interest in Swan Songs.

For more information, please visit our website (, call 512-416-7926, or send an email to Karen McElhatten, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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