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Cancer Patients and Survivors Invited to Submit Original Music Compositions to Compete for $2500 USD “Music As Healing” Grants from the Stand Up To Cancer Canada Kate McGarrigle Fund

Awards Will Support Recording of Selected Original Compositions Inspired by Their Cancer Journeys
TORONTO (January 13, 2020) – The Stand Up To Cancer Canada Kate McGarrigle Fund announced today the “Music As Healing” Grant Program, an initiative that will encourage both cancer patients and cancer survivors, to share their cancer journey through original music compositions. Cancer patients and survivors are invited to submit original compositions (music and lyrics) to compete for ten grants.

The SU2C Canada Kate McGarrigle Fund is a new collaborative program that aims to provide music resources to cancer patients with a passion for music, as well as much-needed funds for sarcoma research. This program honors the memory of Kate McGarrigle, a Canadian folk music singer-songwriter who wrote and performed as a duo with her sister Anna McGarrigle. She is the mother of singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright from her marriage to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, composer, Rufus Wainwright serves as Ambassador for the Stand Up To Cancer Canada Kate McGarrigle Fund. Canadian folk-rock singer, songwriter Martha Wainwright serves as Music Director for the Music As Healing program.

Up to ten finalists will be selected to receive up to $2500 USD as a Music As Healing grant, to support the professional recording of their original composition. Some finalist songs may be compiled into a digital Music As Healing recording for sale, to benefit the Kate McGarrigle Fund for both continuation of the Music As Healing program and sarcoma research.

“SU2C has been focused on ending cancer as we know it, through research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Music As Healing provides SU2C the opportunity to collaborate with Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright to celebrate music’s potential to heal, while raising funds needed for sarcoma research,” stated SU2C Chief Executive Officer Sung Poblete, PhD, RN.

From now through March 2, 2020, 5pm ET, the Music As Healing program will accept applications from cancer patients in active cancer treatment or care, or cancer survivors, who reside in Canada and the United States. Selection of the ten finalists will be made by the Music As Healing Selection Panel, comprising an array of music and cancer professionals and advocates. Music As Healing Music Director Martha Wainwright, leads the Selection Panel:

  • Martha Wainwright, Music As Healing Music Director, Canadian folk-rock singer-songwriter
  • Rufus Wainwright, SU2C Kate McGarrigle Fund Ambassador, Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, composer
  • Ricky Minor, American bass player, music director, composer and music producer
  • Rob Nicholson, Managing Partner, Archon Private Equity Partners
  • Willian G. Nelson, MD, PhD, musician, SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee vice chair, and director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
  • Karen Popkin, a board-certified music therapist and licensed creative arts therapist, Certificate in Hospice and Palliative Care Music Therapy (HPMT), Program Coordinator of Creative Arts at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Integrative Medicine Service
  • Jill Hamer-Wilson, BEng, BEd, MTS, Canadian lung cancer survivor and patient advocate who with her musician husband and children embraced music as healing through her treatment

“Music was a constant, a natural extension of daily life for our mother, who was often described as a luminous singer” stated Martha Wainwright, music director for Music As Healing. “I’m hoping that Music As Healing extends her legacy by illustrating through the songs that will be recorded, and through the listening experience of cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones, how music can provide a bright, shining light through the darkness that can accompany a cancer diagnosis.”

Research has demonstrated that music reduces the side effects of cancer treatment by reducing anxiety during treatment and quelling nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It helps to reduce stress and mitigates both acute and chronic pain. Music also serves to create social connections and a sense of community which can help cancer patients to create supportive and positive aspects in their shared experience.

“The power and freedom to express oneself through music and art is fundamental to our well-being, more so in a time of crisis such as receiving a cancer diagnosis, undergoing treatment, or living as a cancer survivor. The Wainwright’s live and breathe music and we’ve witnessed, first-hand, the power and importance of music as a healing force,” continued Martha Wainwright. The Music As Healing grants create a unique opportunity for musician-composers who share the common experience of a cancer journey.

Patient advocate and member of the Music As Healing Selection Panel, Jill Hamer-Wilson, added “When I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and underwent chemotherapy and several experimental targeted therapies in a clinical trial, music became a shared comfort and joy with my husband and children. Cancer can be a very uncertain time for patients and their loved ones, but sharing music made it possible for us to enjoy time together in something not tied to my disease.”

Cancer patients and survivors ages 15 through adults may apply. The application requires a brief essay describing how their original composition represents, or is inspired by, their personal cancer journey.

Each applicant is required to submit a sample music file, up to 2 (two) minutes, of their original composition reflecting their cancer diagnosis, treatment or life as a survivor. The song is not required to be a literal retelling of a personal cancer experience, but may convey any of the emotions and experiences of cancer patients and survivors, such as hope/optimism, worry/fear, or love for family/ friends/caretakers. All compositions must include lyrics.

The online application is found at: in Canada, and in the US.

When Kate McGarrigle was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2007, it became her mission to combat the disease. After her death in 2010, Rufus, Martha and the Wainwright family have carried on her musical and artist legacy while also funding sarcoma research. Each year, Rufus and Martha Wainwright and several of their well-known musical friends produce a series of holiday concerts in select cities across North America and Europe. These concerts will now benefit the SU2C Kate McGarrigle Fund which exists to fund sarcoma research and this Music As Healing program. Most recently, the Wainwrights brought this concert series to Dublin and London in December 2019.


Stand Up To Cancer Canada is a Canadian registered charity (Reg: # 80550 6730 RR0001), launched by the U.S.-based Entertainment Industry Foundation in 2014. Stand Up To Cancer Canada (SU2C Canada) raises funds to support collaborative cancer research teams, as well as education and awareness programs conducted in Canada.

Under the direction of our SU2C Canada Scientific Advisory Committee, co-led by Alan Bernstein, Ph.D., president of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., SU2C Canada operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs. SU2C Canada currently supports three “signature” Dream Teams engaging dozens of the best and brightest researchers in different disciplines from 15 institutions across the country.

In addition to a board of leading Canadian broadcaster representation, SU2C Canada is guided by the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) including Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser were also co-founders. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., RN serves as SU2C CEO. The CFA includes entertainment industry leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting this new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. For more information on Stand Up To Cancer Canada, visit