Country Comes To Town At Roper Rehab: Roper Rehab hosts singer and band
By Daniel Brock
It isn’t unusual to hear country music during patient sessions at Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. But it is a little strange to here live country tunes.
Nonetheless, that was the case last Friday when Roper Rehab hosted Nashville, Tenn.-based singer Michelle Murray and her band.
The hospital stop comes as Murray is in the midst of her 120-city, 15-month "My Finish Line Movie Premier and Music Tour." The titular film chronicles the story of Sam Schmidt, an Indy Car driver who was paralyzed in an on-track crash in 2000.
Schmidt and Murray met in 2005 and Murray has since become a spokesperson for the former driver’s foundation, which focuses its efforts on finding a cure for paralysis. (The foundation is also a large supporter of the RSF and MUSC collaborative Center for Spinal Cord Injury.)
“Doing the tour this way lets us tell Sam’s story,” said Murray, a Chicago native who formerly resided on Hilton Head Island. The mother of three has even penned a song about Schmidt, "It Won’t Be If, But When (Sam’s Song)."
Murray said her performances and "My Finish Line" are meant to encourage and inspire those affected by life-altering injuries and illnesses. Her show Friday seemed to do just that, as patients took time from assembling puzzles and mobility exercises to nod along with Murray's self-described mix of country with Chicago flair.
"Not everybody likes the same music but they can appreciate good, and this was," said rehab patient Kevin W. O'Grady, an erstwhile bass player himself.
Murray chatted and laughed with patients in Roper Hospital's 6th Floor rehab gym and visited other inpatient areas. As she did, a stand-in guitarist, drafted after Murray’s regular axe-man was called away last-minute on a family emergency, hurriedly learned a bevy of new tunes.
“This happened right before we left, so I literally called 25 guitarists before we found someone who was available,” said Murray, who also left her tour bus in Nashville with mechanical problems.
Most of Murray’s tour in the immediate future will align with the IndyCar racing schedule. Over 14 stops, “My Finish Line,” much of which was filmed at the Indianapolis 500 and highlights Schmidt's daily obstacles, will be premiered 17 times and Murray will play 60 shows. (Film sponsor Firestone helped defray the cost of obtaining race footage, which can cost thousands of dollars for just a few seconds.)
BraunAbility, a wheelchair-accessible van and wheelchair lift maker, is one of the "My Finish Line" tour's sponsors. The only Lowcountry BraunAbility dealership, Ilderton Conversion Company, played host to Murray Friday afternoon. She'll appear at Ilderton's Charlotte location later in the tour and will be back in Charleston in the fall, though details of that stop haven't been set.