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Music Meets Charity:

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Chords for a Cause
featuring Sister Hazel
Saturday, October 23rd
UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium

Sister Hazel

ALL FOR charity: Sister Hazel plays with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra on Saturday evening as part of the charity event Chords for a Cause.

Dress elegant, listen sophisticate, and help altruistic. Grammy-winning rock-stars pair up with smooth-stringed orchestral sounds all for selfless missionaries this weekend—and, no, I am not outlining ABC’s new reality series. Capturing the hearts of our public last year, Chords for a Cause brings together a night of magic and music, and combines it with the spirit of giving on Saturday, October 23rd, in UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium.

A nonprofit organization created to utilize the power of music to help others, the event made its debut last year with Edwin McCain as the headliner. In the end, proceeds covered the cost of bringing a mobile pediatric intensive care unit to Wilmington. Then, through the help of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) Foundation and the Eshelman Foundation, they raised over half a million more to fund the unit—not too shabby for the first year out of the gate.

This year Sister Hazel will be taking the stage with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra for the cause. encore caught up with one of the founders, Dr. Damian Brezinski, to get the details on the event.

encore: It says that you, Mayor Saffo, and Edwin McCain were drinking Red Bulls and came up with this idea. But I’m just not satisfied. How on earth did you go from Red Bulls to charity?
Dr. Brezinski: A true story! It all started in 2008 when a chance meeting occurred with Mayor Saffo, myself and Edwin McCain after a charity event. We were on the back porch of the Coastline Convention Center drinking Red Bulls at a very late hour, when the mayor suggested we do a charity event every year. Edwin said he would do it if we could use the local symphony. Fast-forward to November 7th, 2009, and the inaugural signature event with Edwin McCain and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra raised enough money to bring a mobile pediatric intensive care unit to Wilmington.

e: What can attendees expect out of the evening?
DB: The goal of the evening is to entertain and inform. Doors will open at 7 p.m. (please, try to arrive early, as we will be honoring those groups who dedicate their time and efforts to helping those who cannot help themselves). We will feature 19 songs from Sister Hazel, scored for symphony; they will be accompanied by our own Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.

On a number of the songs, we will use The Voyagers; they are the honors chorus program of Hoggard High. We will also be honoring those amazing people from our community that travel on medical missions to Third World countries and the exceptional work that they do. We plan to start the show a little after 8 p.m., and we plan to go well into the night! I think people will get their hard-earned money’s worth.

e: Tell me about this year’s cause?
DB: This year’s charity is Mission Ready— a project that recycles date-expired but usable medical equipment, and ships it to Africa and Haiti. A portion of the proceeds will go to Lyrics for Life—this is a charity founded by Sister Hazel’s lead singer, Ken Block, to honor his brother who passed away from cancer.

e: How did you choose this year’s beneficiary?
DB: Like everything else in this project, a random series of events led to a wonderful project. A small group of us—Dr. Ted Winneberger (former director of the NHRMC ER services), Christy Spivey (a nurse clinical manager for NHRMC), my wife and I—were at a kid’s skating party, discussing the next Chords for a Cause, lamenting as to a worthy cause for the year. Ted and Christy were leaving on a mission to Haiti and needed supplies … the rest is history.

As for Lyrics for Life, Ken Block and I both lost brothers to cancer at very young ages. We bonded over this many years ago and had always planned to do an event to honor our brothers.

e: Besides winning a Grammy and being awesome, why did you choose Sister Hazel?
DB: I like working with friends. Ken Block, Ryan Newell and Mark Trojanowski (all from Sister Hazel) are good friends and wonderful musicians. Edwin McCain is also a really good friend and an amazing supporter of the cause. We all consider ourselves blessed and lucky being able to support our families while doing what we truly love and enjoy.

Though Chords for a Cause is sold out, folks can still make donations to this year’s event by heading over to or call (910) 815-3179. All proceeds benefit Mission Ready and Lyrics for a Cause.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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