When Alexandra succumbed two years after her initial diagnosis, Ellis founded the Children's Cancer Association in 1995. The organization's flagship program MyMusicRx aimed to help sick kids with the same medicine that brought Alex such joy. (Since then, the JoyRx initiative has expanded to include PlayRx, a weekend getaway at CCA's "Caring Cabin" in the Pacific Northwest, and FriendshipRx, a chemotherapy mentorship program.)
"We started mobile music carts and allowed kids to choose music experience -- headphone checkouts, bedside sing-alongs, music lessons. Sometimes artists that are traveling would come in," Ellis says. "Whether terminally ill, in pediatric care, undergoing chemotherapy, we think it's what every kid across the globe should be able to access."
Based in Portland, Ore., the organization last year provided in-house "music medicine" to 3,515 young music fans in hospitals across the state and Southwest Washington State. That number increases to 4,400 when including MyMusicRx.org, its online component, launched two years ago and developed with brand partners including FADER and Cornerstone, Nike, Gatorade, SOL Republic, and Converse. Now, anyone in the U.S. and Canada can access music anytime.
"It provides kids 24/7 access to artist greetings and things we call 'Song Prescriptions,' streaming music concerts, digital instruments, and lessons they can see online," says Ellis.
On Dec. 2, otherwise known as "Giving Tuesday" to counteract the mass consumption of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, MyMusicRx.org will launch #Bedstock, an online music festival. Forget traipsing through muddy fields or under the hot sun for 12 hours a day, or dealing with soundbeed from the neighboring main stage; for this festival, no one has to leave their beds (so, basically, it's the best festival ever). Musicians including Chromeo (whom you can see in #Bedstock's teaser preview), B.o.B, Passion Pit, and Jessie Ware will be recording and performing while "singing a song in bed, hiding under the covers," explains Ellis. "The bed is their stage. Their creativity will come to life in these vignettes."
The project came together with the help of "powerful brands within the music industry who care deeply about what we are doing," Those friends in high places include Atlantic Records, the Ace Hotel (which kindly provided Chromeo with their platform), Stumptown, and Republic Records. "The credit is spread around with our partners, our champions who have helped us dream big," Ellis stresses.
Throughout the day on Dec. 2, 25 to 100 videos will be posted to #Bedstock's website and Tumblr page, while the artists push them to their own social media platforms. The ultimate goal is to raise $100,000 through $25 donations -- Converse has agreed to match $10,000 raised by #Bedstock and fans, and SOL Republic is donating $1 to MMRx for every online order between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- to the bedside of kids in hospitals. Funds raised will continue to finance the music initiatives MyMusicRx has been doing both online and off.
"This campaign is certainly based on inspiration," says Ellis. "We're an organization that has a big heart, and a heart with little rays is our logo. We believe passionately in music medicine. Kids should have access to it. So let's dream big."