Staff and patients applauded enthusiastically as singer-songwriter Michelle Murray filled the air with her music during an Aug. 14 visit to Craig Hospital.
“We frequently make stops at hospitals and visit patients to talk about the documentary and the music,” Murray said about her itinerary on her 50-state, 50,000-movie premiere and music tour for “My Finish Line.”
“My Finish Line” is a documentary about former Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt’s near-fatal accident that left him a quadriplegic, and how he overcame the challenges so he is now a successful IndyCar team owner. Murray said Schmidt’s experiences and her work with him inspired her to team up to write the song, “It Won’t Be If But When (Sam’s Song).”
“Visiting Craig is very special to us because this was where Sam was treated after his car crash in 2000,” she said. “I know Sam was here 13 years ago, but I still feel inspired to come to Craig, talk to the patients and see all they do here.”
John Dowell said he enjoyed the concert and he said he was touched by Murray’s emotional facial and body language when she sang “Sam’s Song.”
“My uncle is a paraplegic and an outpatient here at Craig, and I think this song reflects his determination to again do some of the things he used to be able to do,” Dowell said. “I have a copy of the DVD of the movie and I plan to get a copy of the song for my uncle because it touched me and I believe it will inspire him.”
Murray began performing when she was a 4-year-old as a singer and a violinist.
“I had a career as a singer and I don’t think the ‘My Finish Line’ project has changed things, but it has just been fun to see what we can do with music and see how far-reaching and how many people can be touched by our songs,” she said after the concert. “We have a great team of people working together and it is neat to see how much can be accomplished when people put their talents together.”
She said she has always had a heart for people with mental or physical needs that probably had its roots in the fact that both her parents were teachers working with special-needs students.
“However, I have been much more educated about the challenges of spinal cord injuries and mobility issues in the five years since I met Sam,” she said. “I feel honored to be spokesperson for the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. Sam is such an incredible person whose strength and spirit is an inspiration to everyone. Of course, he was the inspiration for ‘It Won’t Be If But When’ because he one of his greatest desires is to dance with his daughter at her wedding.”
Murray said she is the melody member of songwriting teams. She said it might be a phrase, an experience or some other inspiration that provides what she calls the hook to trigger the songwriting effort.
“Sometimes we get a chorus or the lyrics and my contribution is to develop a melody to fit the message,” she said. “If I start the process, I develop a melody and my songwriting partner develops the lyrics for the song.”
Looking ahead, Murray said this tour and exciting chapter in her career really just sort of happened and she feels the sky is the limit.
“I have always performed, done music and toured,” she said. “This venture was sort of a new direction with the documentary film and with the type of songs we write. I am excited to see where it goes because there are so many people we can connect with and touch them as they touch me. It is truly an adventure and every day is exciting.”