A note from ACG Executive Director Matt Hinsley:

Talking with Shannon Belcher about the place music holds in her life, in her memories, and in her relationship with her mother was such a moving experience for me. If her story and generosity inspire you too, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to our Spring 2023 Music & Healing Fund Drive. Shannon will match every dollar contributed up to $10,000. 

Throughout the month of March we will be shining a light on ACG Music & Healing. On Thursday, March 9th, our free, monthly ACGtalks breakfast series will focus on our work in this area. Then, on March 25-26, we will present a concert of some of the most memorable songs created by Music & Healing artists and participants over the years. The concert is called We’ve Always Known, and we’ve never done anything like it. I hope you’ll join us! 

As always, I welcome you to contact me any time for any reason. Thank you.

For many years, Shannon Belcher attended ACG concerts with her mom Paula. Some of Shannon’s fondest early memories revolve around a classical guitar festival in Carmel, California, when Paula first introduced her to the art form. Shannon’s father, Paula’s husband Glenn, was a fighter pilot who went Missing In Action during the Vietnam War. Paula and Shannon would stay close, classical guitar weaving in and out of their lives, all the way until Paula passed away last summer.

Shannon has just pledged a generous matching gift of $10,000 to ACG Music & Healing in honor of her parents, and I sat down with her to talk about why. 

“I wanted to give this gift for so many reasons,” she told me. “The work you do at Dell Children’s Hospital, with veterans, with the juvenile justice population. Through ACG I’ve seen music give huge gifts to people that change their lives. And I’ve experienced it myself many times, including the sense of peace and healing that came to me when ACG musicians hosted and performed for Mom’s memorial service at The Rosette.”

A career data and financial systems analyst, Shannon joined the Board of Directors of Austin Classical Guitar in September 2019. As a patron of the organization for more than a decade by that time, Shannon was already deeply familiar with ACG Music & Healing.

“Mom and I attended the presentations you would do before concerts. I remember, in particular, a song called Miles To Go, written by a woman with a chronic cancer diagnosis. It was so moving, with lyrics about her drive to and from MD Anderson in Houston. 

“We were introduced to that song only shortly before mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, so its meaning only grew for us. And now, as it turns out, I’m about to move to a place in Bastrop on that very road she described in the song.”

I asked Shannon about impact she hopes her gift will bring to ACG Music & Healing participants. She told me,

“In Mom’s last few days, you came to play for her. Mom was in that twilight stage, still there, body aware, but eyes closed. You played for us, and Mom intentionally changed her grasp on my hand. She was there, she was communicating. This was a good thing.”

“I believe Music & Healing can give people a core of peace. I think that core of peace can bring about many things, perhaps focus and discipline to take difficult steps, perhaps a release from physical or psychological pain, perhaps resilience that will keep them from self-destructive behavior. What ACG does is not soporific, it’s not escapist, it addresses the pain through expression, and that makes a huge difference. It really goes back to the mission of ACG: to inspire individuals in our community through experiences of deep personal significance.”

Shannon and Paula in Carmel