MusiCares is a non profit organization that lends a helping hand to people in the music industry who are facing hardship, illness, financial distress, or substance abuse. MusiCares strives to be there when help is needed the most.

The organization is an offshoot of The Recording Academy (better know as the Grammy’s). But even though they are affiliated, you do not need to be a Recording Academy member (or a member of any organization or union) to receive assistance from MusiCares.

I spoke recently with their executive director Debbie Carroll, and one of the first questions I asked was: “Are people in the bluegrass music industry eligible for assistance?  Her answer was an emphatic “Absolutely!”  She also said that they have definitely helped members of the our community in the past. For several years they have had a presence at the IBMA World of Bluegrass, via the Health Fair, and were aggressive in offering assistance during the extensive Nashville flooding in 2010.

The only eligibility requirements for assistance are: the applicant must document at least five years of work in the music industry, or show that he or she has performed on at least six commercially released recordings. These recordings do not have to be major label recordings. They can be independent or even self released albums (I would expect that many bluegrass albums would fit this description). Debbie said that anyone working in the music business is eligible. This includes producers, songwriters, engineers, etc.  She also stated that the applicant does not have to make 100% of their living from music, which is great, seeing that a great majority of bluegrass professionals have “day jobs” as well.

MusiCares can assist clients needing funds for living expenses, medical bills, and can even supply funds or help set up rehab for substance abuse. Debbie said that the organization is very responsible with their aid, and that no money goes to the client directly. All payments go to a third party. For example: if a person needs money for a mortgage payment, MusiCares pays the mortgage company directly. This way there is no question where the money is going to help.

Some other life situations where the organization comes in to help are, but not limited to:  medical expenses for a client or child, loss of income from cancelled gigs, loss of work from disability, loss of wages… and the list goes on. Carroll said, “When people hit those pot holes in life, we pick them up, dust them off, and send them on their way.” I’ll bet  that in this tough economic time, there are many bluegrass folks that could use a helping hand.

Another great benefit they provide is free dental checkups and cleanings. You can check their website for details and dates and locations.

The application process is a simple two and a half page document, which is then sent to a grant review board for authorization. Debbie stated that they rarely turn anyone away, unless it is obvious that the client has never worked in the music industry.

To apply you can call the number of the MusiCares office in your region. You can also email them at

  • MusiCares West Region – 800.687.4227
  • MusiCares South Region – 877.626.2748
  • MusiCares East Region – 877.303.6962

Just last year the organization provided $2.9 million of assistance to around 2700 people. I think the help that MusiCares provides is just phenomenal. Many artists present fund raising shows and house concerts to benefit the fund. What a great way to give back to your music community.

You can make a donation, or find more about their work at

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About the Author

Troy Engle

Troy Engle is studio musician, singer, and songwriter living in Nashville, TN. He has toured or recorded with Patty Loveless, The Isaacs, Michael Martin Murphey, Larry Sparks, and many other bluegrass and country artists. He is also the owner of, which provides quality acoustic instrument tracks for recording artists and studios.