Austin atteberry hospice

Sing Me a Story Foundation Gives Voice to the Voiceless

Thursday, May 14, 2015 Cora

Sometimes simple ideas are the most powerful. Austin Atteberry is grateful he’s able to share something he created in a children’s playroom in Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Sing Me a Story Foundation helps children in challenging situations write and illustrate stories which are then available for songwriters to create songs inspired by the story.

After Northwestern University, Lake Bluff, IL native Atteberry moved to Nashville, TN to write music. He moved in next to a “beautiful girl”, Sara, who was a Child Care Specialist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. “She said, ‘Why don’t you and your guitar volunteer at the hospital,” Atteberry says. “I’d ask the kids to tell me a story of what they wanted. You can imagine the types of stories.” They ranged from monsters in the closets, to Dad saves the day, to teenage love. Some of them he’d record and send to the music therapist who’d burn it onto a cd for the family. The beautiful girl is now his wife and the idea is Sing Me a Story Foundation.

They work with over fifty organizations around the world from children’s homes, hospices, to the New York Writers Coalition to reach children of all backgrounds and circumstances. “One of the conveniences of the foundation being online is there’s nothing preventing a child in Nigeria from working with a songwriter in Nashville,” says Atteberry. Sing Me a Story welcomes anyone who identifies as a songwriter. They have writers of all levels from someone known to be a “super producer” to someone just cutting their teeth to everyone in between. They even have a grandma with a ukulele. The music created is as eclectic as their clients. While a majority of the songs are folk, just someone with a guitar, stories have inspired raps, heavy metal and punk music.

Austin Atteberry and his wife, Sara. The process is simple. Sing Me a Story works with the organizations and provides the materials that facilitate writing. When the stories are finished, they are scanned and uploaded where they are reviewed to make sure they are appropriate and don’t contain any identifiable material. Songwriters are notified a new story is available and they get to work. When the song is completed, they upload the song and it is reviewed to make sure it’s appropriate and inspired by the story. “We don’t want someone uploading a song about their girlfriend,” says Atteberry. The songwriters can create campaigns around their song for the cause as someone raises awareness and money to run a marathon. One of the reasons Sing Me a Story works with organizations is because the songs are being used to fundraise. Every time someone supports the campaign, they receive a MP3 of the song. They’re supporting many things: the foundation, the songwriter, the kids, and the cause.

The money raised is divided between Sing Me a Story and the partnering organization. Sing Me a Story would like to grow into helping international disaster relief. Not only will the songwriters get to help individuals in real time, the larger picture is to focus on our similarities. Atteberry says they view their foundation from three perspectives: a 10 foot, 1000 foot, and 10,000 foot perspective. “The 10 foot is we’re creating songs from stories. The 1,000 foot is raising money for the organizations and children in need. The 10,000 is focusing on what we all have in common and that’s imagination,” says Atteberry. “ If we focus on the 500 things that make us the same rather than the 5 that make us different, there would be more peace, hope, and health.” He’d like people to hear a song about the crisis and when they hear news about the disaster, instead of numbers they see people. For more about Sing Me a Story Foundation, visit

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