Free concert at Dickens Hall to support T.J. Martell Foundation
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Free concert at Dickens Hall to support T.J. Martell Foundation

A concert offering community, service and reflection convocation credit will feature several Belmont bands Thursday at 6 p.m. outside Dickens Hall to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation.

Both Belmont students and the surrounding community have rallied around the event.

“Everything from the music, to the lights, to the food has been donated or volunteered, simply because of what the T.J. Martell Foundation does and what we hope to do for them in the future,” said Dickens Hall Residence Director David Friedrichs.

The T.J. Martell Foundation has a unique platform of using music to help fund AIDS, leukemia and cancer research.

“The T.J. Martell Foundation was started by a promise from a father to his son,” said Melissa Goodwin, senior vice president of operations.

Tony Martell was a music industry executive at CBS Records and started careers for artists such as Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne, Stevie Ray Vaughan and more.

“T.J., Tony’s son, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1973 at the age of 17 and died two years later.  He asked his dad to raise a million dollars for cancer research. Tony remembered him saying that he didn’t want others to go through what he was going through,” said Goodwin.

Martell was able to keep his promise to his son by starting the T.J. Martell Foundation in his honor.

“He held a fundraiser at Buddy Rich’s nightclub in New York City and invited his friends including Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. They raised $50,000 that night and the T.J. Martell Foundation was born. Now, more than 42 years later, the foundation has raised over $280 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research,” said Goodwin.

The Belmont Residence Life community was attracted to the foundation’s “mission of utilizing the music industry to raise awareness and funds for medical research,” said Friedrichs.

The concert was started by a Belmont resident assistant and former intern for the T.J. Martell Foundation and produced by Orange Light Studio. The lineup includes Belmont band Fenwick, as well as Luke Olson and Zach Rowell, who performed in the Country Showcase. The T.J. Martell Foundation has also invited bands Cameron Blackburn and husband-wife duo Terra Bella.

Both Residence Life and the T.J. Martell Foundation hopes Thursday’s concert will help spread awareness of the foundation and its mission across campus.

Goodwin also hopes the concert will encourage students to pursue internships and volunteer opportunities with the foundation.

“For over 40 years this foundation has been one of the most meaningful and important parts of the music industry,” said Goodwin. “Our goal is to make 2017 one of the greatest years in T.J. Martell Foundation fundraising history, dedicated to the extraordinary life of Tony Martell.”

Photo courtesy of David Friedrichs.

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