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The healing power of music: Kirkland woman's losses to cancer inspire benefit concerts

Michele Abrams, In Concert for Cancer founder

SEATTLE, Wash. -- A Kirkland event promoter whose parents both died of cancer has embarked upon a lifelong mission to celebrate the healing power of music.

Her benefit concert this fall, featuring the music of Chicago, is raising money for research.

Michele Abrams began her career in music promotion in the 1980s. She landed a job in Los Angeles with MTV where she worked on music videos.

She experienced tragedy when she lost her father George to cancer. He had leukemia and developed a stomach tumor. Michele's mother Dolores later died of bladder cancer.

The double loss led Abrams to the next phase in her career: promoting benefit concerts to raise money for research, and also to provide cancer victims and survivors with an uplifting experience.

"I thought wouldn't it be great if we could create a joyful concert event that lifted our community up, and helped cancer survivors and patients know that they are not alone," Abrams says. "We could be a joyful platform to raise awareness about the progress being made."

The latest in a 7-year series called In Concert For Cancer comes October 20, when Michele welcomes a band featuring two longtime members of the horn-based classic rock band Chicago: Founding drummer Danny Saraphine and 30-year guitarist Bill Champlin. Their new group is called CTA, a nod to Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago's original name. They'll blast through four decades of Chicago hits including "Beginnings" "Saturday in the Park" "Make Me Smile" and many others.

Champlin himself is hard hit by cancer. Two years ago his son Bradford died of esophageal cancer. Champlin himself has since been diagnosed with cancer.

Despite the toll of the remorseless disease, Michele aims for her concert to uplift and, who knows, perhaps even more.

"Music is powerful, it's magical" she says. "There's evidence based science that music helps us heal."

For the benefit concert, Abrams intends to pack Kirkland Performance Center with those touched by cancer. She'll shower a lot of free tickets on this population, meaning the total money raised takes a hit. But it will be enough to make a difference.

Seattle Children's Hospital is the beneficiary, specifically pediatric immunotherapy research.

With both Abrams' parents falling to cancer, does she worry she may one day fall victim too? How can you not, she answers. But she adds, "I try not to worry too much, because I think worry is a misguided use of our energy."

Instead that energy goes toward ensuring as many cancer victims as possible are uplifted at least, and healed at best.

In Concert For Cancer featuring CTA is set for October 20, 2018 at Kirkland Performance Center. Tickets are available here.

The whole show moves to Portland for a second benefit concert the very next night at Revolution Hall.

Click the picture above to hear the audio.

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