Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Welcomes American Idol

The votes are in and the top 10 contestants from American Idol, Season 11, did not disappoint when they stopped by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for a meet and greet!  In a rush of excitement, the young Idol contestants turned a quiet Sunday afternoon at CHOA into a standing room only, fun time of questions and answers, picture-taking, and autograph signing.  On tour with American Idol LIVE!, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Colton Dixon, DeAndre Brackensick, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, Heejun Han, Hollie Cavanagh, Joshua Ledet, and Skylar Laine stopped to speak to patients and fans before heading to The Arena at Gwinnett Center for their 7:00 p.m. concert.

On a whirlwind, 45-city tour across the U.S., the Idols told us all about life on the road, costume choices, and the mass chaos that follows them when they go out, as a group, in public!

The Idols reminisced about their time on American Idol and the perks that came with being on TV – even telling us that they got a weekly clothing allowance and a personal stylist!

Runner-up, Jessica Sanchez, just celebrated a birthday on August 4. When the patients at CHOA got wind of this, they weren’t going to let her get away without singing “Happy Birthday!”

When asked what they would say to Ryan Seacrest if he were there, the Idols had one simple message, “We miss you!”

With the departure of beloved Idol judges, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the contestants said it would be awesome if Chuck Norris could take one of those empty spots on the judging panel.

Families and patients were thrilled to spend a Sunday afternoon with these singing sensations!  They encouraged everyone to NEVER GIVE UP!  We look forward to hearing more from these bright young stars.

An “Idol” sized thank you to Mamie Shepherd for her recap from this special day at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The Wiggles Hang Out At CHOA!

Wiggle Mania has officially hit The Voice at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta!  The Wiggles, also known as “The Beatles for Babies,” wiggled their way into our studio, and into our hearts, to perform and cheer up patients!

Anthony, Jeff, Murray, Greg, and Captain Feathersword came in full force before their big concert in Atlanta and the crowd at CHOA welcomed them with open arms.

On their farewell tour – Greg, Jeff, and Murray are retiring – The Wiggles sang for our patients and answered questions, including how they are able to get out of the TV and into the hospital!

Yellow Wiggle, Greg, is back on tour with the group after a leave of absence due to illness.  We asked Greg what he did to stay positive while he was sick.  Watch the video below to find out what he said!

Lots of laughing and singing drew the CHOA patients in as the fantastic five performed their hit, “Willaby Wallaby Woo,” using everyone’s name in a verse.  Such personalized attention made every heart smile.

When asked about their favorite food, the group naturally responded with, “Fruit Salad” and “Hot Potato,” with a little cold spaghetti mixed in for good measure.  The children (and adults) were enchanted!

The Ryan Seacrest Foundation supports a long list of incredible talent and The Wiggles rank high on that list.  Check out all of the great pictures from their visit below!


A big thank you to Mamie Shepherd for this great recap and video!

Happy 1st Birthday To Our Broadcast Media Center At CHOP!

A very happy 1st birthday to our broadcast media center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia! What a wonderful year it has been!

A big thank you to all of the staff, interns, patients, visitors and supporters that have helped make this first year so special.  We wanted to share a video from the opening of this broadcast center as well as pictures from that very special day a year ago!

If you have visited one of our centers please tell us about your experience in the comments below.

We look forward to many more special years at CHOP!

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Rising Star Erin Hill Spends The Afternoon At CHOA!

Music runs in the family for up-and-coming artist, Erin Hill. Arriving with one of her band members, who also happens to be her dad, Erin was greeted by a big crowd when she stopped in our Atlanta studio at Children’s Healthcare on Wednesday.

We were lucky to have this artist spend an entire afternoon performing for, and visiting with, patients at our studio!

When she sat down to talk to us, Erin told us about the early stages of her music career, beginning with a girl band she formed as a teenager.   She told the patients at Children’s about how she writes her own music, saying that her favorite songs, and the ones she thinks of as her personal best, only take her about 30 minutes to write!  During her visit, Erin played the guitar (her family taught her how) and sang 4 songs she wrote herself.

With new fans hanging on her every word, Erin explained that she sometimes goes back to songs she wrote years ago, retweaks them, and gives them new life.

Even with all of her success, Erin said that there are still ups and downs connected with being in the music industry – “some people will like my voice and others won’t.”

Often compared to a wide variety of accomplished artists like Pat Benatar, Taylor Swift, Paramore, and Avril Lavigne, Erin remains grounded and determined to make her way in the music arena! She thrilled the crowd by bringing a promo version of her CD to pass out to patients – her album is still in the finishing stages and will be released sometime this year.

One of our favorite moments was when one of the CHOA patients sang with Erin. (See the video below.)

Erin’s compassion, kindness, and generosity were not lost on her new fans! We all look forward to many more visits from this rising star – she is definitely one to keep your eye on!


Thank you to Mamie Shepherd for this great recap and video!

The Horizon Theatre Presents

July 10thmarked a great night in the city of Atlanta as staff from Children’s Healthcare, friends, and fans of the Ryan Seacrest Foundation came together at the Horizon Theatre for a unique fundraiser to benefit The Voice!

Sheddin’, a new comedy sponsored by the Macy’s Foundation, and written by Thomas W. Jones II, opened at the Horizon Theatre in Little Five Points.  The cast graciously put on a special performance before the show opened to the public just to benefit RSF’s media studio at CHOA!

This story, about empty nesters throwing a homecoming for their rockstar son, is a follow-up to Horizon’s hit, A Cool Drink of Water.  Under Bruce A. Young’s direction, the comedic sequel reveals that there was more than just a homecoming in the works – the father in the story was hatching a plan to ride on the wave of his son’s success in order to live out his own musical dreams.

A very cool set, talented actors, some bebop and hip-hop, and a lot of laughs made this night a success!  The show will run from July 13 through August 19. Thanks to those who came to the performance, and to The Horizon Theatre for their efforts to help Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta provide patients with uplifting experiences at our media centers!

To learn more about the show please visit the Horizon Theatre’s Website!

Thank you to Mamie Shepherd, one of our amazing CHOA interns, for this great recap!

Mindless Behavior Hangs At CHOP And Talks About Touring, School And Wanting To Work With Usher!

With much excitement, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia welcomed Mindless Behavior while they were in town for their Number One Girl Tour. Prodigy, Princeton, Roc Royal and Ray Ray hung out in studio and answered many of the patients’ questions.

The patients got to learn a little bit about the history of the group. All of the guys were 10 or 11 years old when they auditioned for the group and were selected.  They all had very different (clothing) style and since getting together have been even more open minded about trying new style choices. They even have a stylist with them on tour that helps them find new looks. With the exception of Roc Royal, all the guys had dance experience before the band was formed.  Since Roc Royal did not have any dance experience, the other guys helped introduce him to different dance styles!

When asked about touring, the guys explain that in preparation for a tour, they rehearse for up to 8 hours a day. They also each do 4 hours of schoolwork a day.  They try to stay very healthy while touring, because they are working so much on limited sleep.  When asked the hardest part about touring, the guys all thought that it took a long  time to be really comfortable dancing and singing at the same time, but now feel really good about doing it.  

The patients asked the group who inspired them musically, and while they all talked about different artists, the one artist they all agreed on was Michael Jackson.  They also gave some advice about being a performer: Ray Ray told everyone in studio it is very important to “work hard and stay confident and that you can’t give up, you must keep pushing!”

The guys also clued everyone in on where they got their nicknames:

Prodigy – He catches on really fast when learning music and dance
Princeton – His manager chose this nickname because he is always reading and is really into music history
Roc Royal – Because he always gives 100%
Ray Ray – Everyone has called him this since he was little. He is the “pretty boy” of the group.

When asked what they do when they have free time, they all answered “shopping” and visiting an occasional amusement park.  

The group made it very clear to the patients that they planned to stay together and didn’t want to break up for solo careers. They love working together (and their manager) and they hope to one day collaborate with Usher, Drake, Jacob Lattimore, Justin Bieber and Willow Smith.

Before the guys wrapped up their great visit, they taught the patients some of their dance moves! We are so glad Mindless Behavior stopped in and spent time at our studio and we hope they visit again soon!

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Welcomes American Idol Winner Scotty McCreery!

Scotty McCreery stopped by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia last week and the patients got to learn all about his experiences before, during and after "American Idol"!

Growing up in North Carolina, his trip to Los Angeles for "American Idol" was his first time venturing from his home town. When he first arrived in Los Angeles he thought it was very intense and a “big change” but was a lot of fun. The patients asked when he realized he may have a shot of winning. He explained that at the beginning he never thought he would win the show…but once he made the Top 5 it hit him that he had a chance (and what a big deal it was). He always felt that the crowd helped fuel his performances and once America got him in the Top 5 he was able to loosen up and felt more comfortable on stage.  

Scotty talk about how touring has been a big change for him. He was very used to a smaller audiences but now he plays to arenas with 10,000(+) people.  One big perk about touring is that now that Scotty has his own tour bus his family can join him on the road. He is glad to be able to see both of his parents and his 3 year old sister while traveling!

When he was asked by patients if he has any other hobbies, he explained that he loves baseball. He played in high school and was a pitcher. He always liked to throw “slurve”pitches…a pitch somewhere between a slider and curve ball.

Scotty talked about the importance of education and how he is going to college in the fall. He is going to be attending North Carolina State University and go to classes Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (leaving the rest of the days for performances). He is going to be majoring in Communication and PR and is excited for the challenge.

One of the questions Scotty was asked was when he started singing.  Scotty began singing in the church choir and is pretty sure that singing is in his “DNA". He got his first guitar in the 4th grade and received lessons from a neighbor who performed in Nashville.

The patients also asked him a bunch of fun speed round questions. Here are ten of his answers:

  1. What is his special talent? Wiggling his ears
  2. What is his favorite movie? Remember The Titans
  3. Favorite thing to do on his tour bus? Sleep!
  4. Favorite NBA team? The Celtics (he loves sports!)
  5. Favorite song right now? He thinks  “Call Me Maybe” is really catchy and has considered doing an acoustic version
  6. What does he want to be doing in ten years? Still singing country music
  7. Would he rather be roommates with the Joker or Darth Vader?  Leaned toward the Joker because he thinks Darth Vader would be a bad snorer
  8. What super power would he want to have? He would like to fly! “Traffic stinks”
  9. Would he rather have 1 million twitter followers or a Column in the NY Times? 1 million Twitter Followers
  10. What is his nickname? “8-er” but his sister used to call him ‘Scotty Potty”

After a great visit in studio, Scotty left the patients with a little bit of advice: “Gotta believe dreams come true!”  We agree, and are so excited Scotty stopped by!

The Cumberland Collective Makes Beautiful Music At CHOA!

Less than one year into the collaborative union of 15 musicians in Nashville, The Cumberland Collective, jazzed up the scene at The Voice at CHOA.  Heads were bobbing, fingers were snapping, toes were tapping, and bodies were swaying as the individual artists came together to produce great music.  On the way to an appearance at popular Atlanta hotspot, Eddie’s Attic, The Cumberland Collective stopped in at The Voice to entertain and raise the spirits of those who gathered to join in the fun.

With the help of some of the patients keeping the beat, The Cumberland Collective held what felt like a very cool jam session (see video below!). A bit of blues, folk, and gospel topped off with a hint of jazz, the band’s style is hard to pinpoint.  It’s unique and catchy –  not a single listener sat still as the singers and songwriters produced their own special brand of music magic!

On their second visit to The Voice, TCC left all behind wanting more of “The Music That Moves!”

Thank you to Mamie Shepherd for this great visit recap and video!

Olly Murs Stops By CHOA Before Opening For One Direction!

While the boy band, One Direction, invaded Atlanta, GA this week, the group’s opening act, Olly Murs, charmed the American crowd waiting for him at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta!  Murs, 2nd place X Factor UK 2009 winner, Double Platinum recording artist, co-host of Xtra Factor UK, author of “Happy Days”, and supporter for the charity, Brainwave, delighted the patients and staff at The Voice with his quick wit, amazing vocals, and enchanting accent.

Arriving in a big, white, personalized “Olly Wagon,” (see the pictures below!) Murs brought contagious joy to The Voice.  Everyone was smitten with the English gent.  Olly spent 45 minutes telling stories, beatboxing, and singing with patients who could not get enough of the 28-year-old performer.  Sporting one of the signature hats that gained him fame on X Factor UK, Olly gave insight into his current hit, his feelings about the fast paced U.S., and his tour with One Direction!

He told us that he is like the “big brother” on tour with the 1D boys.

“I never expected, in my wildest dreams, that I would be coming to America.”

We learned his favorite movie is “The Goonies” and his inspiration for beatboxing was Justin Timberlake (see the video recap below to check his skills out)!

During Olly’s audition for X Factor, he received a glowing thumbs-up from the show’s creator and judge, Simon Cowell, who said, “I really, really like you.  You are very, very, very cool!”  That sums up our feelings exactly!   Murs makes our Heart Skip A Beat!

Olly’s first American CD comes out on September 25, 2012! It will be a “happy day” when he returns to The Voice in Atlanta!
A big thank you to Mamie Shepherd for this recap and all of our incredible interns for their hard work and dedication!

Gavin DeGraw Creates Many Memorable Moments At CHOA!

Things got a little bit “Sweeter” when singer Gavin DeGraw came to The Voice at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta while on tour with Colbie Caillat and Andy Grammer!

Gavin delighted patients and fans when he appeared wearing one of his signature hats! When asked about his topper collection, Gavin said that he, “Brings a handful of hats on tour.”  This popular recording powerhouse, and recent Dancing With The Stars contestant, told us, “The hat is a very personal thing – it has to fit you a certain way.  It has to be the right amount of brim for the right amount of head.”  With a vast collection of hats, Gavin told the patients that he has been collecting for a while! “It started when I came out of the womb, when I had a cold head!”

Patients were overjoyed when Gavin sang the title track from his album “Chariot.” He also sang his hit song “Not Over You” off of his most current album, “Sweeter” (see video below).

“For me, it’s my passion – playing music.  I still view this as a dream job. I got really lucky.”

                                                                   – Gavin DeGraw

One of the most touching moments was when Gavin passed out a musical note bead he brought for patients who are a part of the Beads of Courage program.  Beads of Courage offers “supportive care” for very sick patients and Gavin supports its cause – he even carried beads with him on Dancing With The Stars! This program “provides arts-in-medicine for children with serious illness.”

For sure, The Voice at Children’s has one message for Gavin DeGraw…Come back!  We’re “Not Over You!”

A big thank you to Mamie Shepherd  (one of our great CHOA interns) for her amazing recap (and video) of Gavin’s visit!