For all of her success in the pop and rock marketplace as a recording artist and all of her sold-out concerts, there was a day in 2006 that Sheryl Crow – the iconic performer known for such hits as “All I Wanna Do” and “Everyday Is A Winding Road” – felt as far from on top of the world as she could possibly be: the day she was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was surreal,” Crow reveals to Billboard of that moment in time which will be forever frozen in her memory. “I don’t think that anyone thinks that they are going to be diagnosed with cancer, particularly someone who was as healthy as I was – who had this belief system that as long as I worked hard, everything was going to be perfect and right. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. There’s no such thing as ‘If you’re a good person, you’re not going to get cancer.’ For me, it was definitely a shock.”
But once that initial feeling wore off, she took a proactive approach to her treatment – as well as her life. “I cancelled everything, and I took care of myself, and I got some really great life lessons out of the experience,” she recalls. “I learned to put myself first, and how to say no sometimes to the things I didn’t want to do in order to take care of myself.”
Since then, Crow has lent her time and talents to a variety of cancer-related causes and organizations, with the latest event taking place this Sunday (November 19) with her participation as the headliner of An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends, for the second year in a row. The second annual Nashville Ice Show, benefiting the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, will take place at Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s for his CARES Foundation, which helps cancer patients who are navigating the process of treatment, as well as cancer survivors,” explains Crow. “It’s basically helping those who are facing the daunting task of going through treatment or survivorship. It’s a great foundation. He established it through the Cleveland Clinic, where he was treated. We did it last year, and it was a blast. It’s basically an evening with some of the most well-known and competitive ice and figure skaters,” said Crow of the line-up that includes Katia Gordeeva (2x Olympic Gold Medalist), Meryl Davis (Olympic Gold Medalist and “Dancing with the Stars” winner), Kurt Browning (4x World Champion), among others.
In addition to those on the ice – which will also include special guest host and cancer survivor Peggy Fleming – the event will also feature many of the top musical stars in Nashville, ranging from Steve Cropper and Darius Rucker to Charles Esten. Hamilton told Billboard that he believes the event is one that unites the skating and musical worlds.
“It’s a unique event, with a lot of live music, which Nashville is known for, and skating – which I’m trying to make Nashville known for,” he says with a smile. “It’s a real powerful experience. The music sounds great, and you have the visual skating, which is done at the highest level. It’s a very professional cast. I’ve done a lot of shows with these guys, and they are all really good, and very excited about to stand in front of some of their heroes. It’s great for the musicians because it’s something different for them. When Vince Gill did my show in Cleveland a few years ago, about four songs in, he started laughing and said ‘I’ve never felt so ignored in my whole career.’ People were listening to the music, but watching the skating. It’s a really amazing experience, and one that I can’t oversell.”
Hamilton, a cancer survivor himself since 1997, and Crow have been friends for quite some time. “We met for the first time when she did a concert at the Olympics in Salt Lake City. We met briefly, and it was fun to meet her,” he says. “The summer I met my wife, I was listening to C’mon C’mon, and basically wore it out and had to buy it again. I was a big fan of hers. I loved her songwriting and her voice. When she moved to Nashville, we reconnected. By that point, she was a cancer survivor, and we hit it off well. We went to see her show in Memphis, and she told us that she wanted to play the event in Cleveland.”
Crow echoes his sentiments about their closeness, saying “I’ve been friends with both him and his wife long before this event. Our kids are growing up together, and he’s been a great role model in my kids’ lives. He’s just an incredible person, and a very faith-filled person, as well as his wife. He’s also hilarious, and so much fun to be around. He’s been a great friend to me. This is something fun that I get to do with someone that I totally love. That’s the icing on the cake.”
While Crow will be performing some of her hits at this year’s event, will she be tempted to put on a pair of skates?
“I was threatening to do that, but it’s probably not going to happen this year,” she jokes, adding that “Hopefully, in the next few years, I can get my seven-year old out there. He’s hoping one day to grow up to be a Nashville Predator,” she says in reference to the city’s NHL team. “So, maybe next year we’ll get out there. You never know.”
Crow’s family is one of the biggest reasons she does all she can to help others through their own battles with cancer, as she calls the fight “a game changer” that makes life more precious than it may already seem. “When you get diagnosed, your family and your friends get diagnosed as well. They go through it with you. It introduces you to your mortality,” she says, adding that with Hamilton, one of the bonds between them is that they know each other’s history of battling through the disease. “Knowing Scott — and having spent time with his wife and his family — he is such an incredible person, and someone that you would want on your team when you are going through something like this, with the battles that he has gone through.”