The mission of Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is to provide financial assistance to all types of career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.
Sweet Relief was founded by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams in 1993. Victoria, while on a career-making tour with Neil Young was forced to drop off mid-schedule after experiencing unexplained debilitating symptoms. A long and painful diagnostic process revealed she had multiple sclerosis.
After her diagnosis, a group of friends assembled an all-star album of Victoria’s songs, Sweet Relief, which alleviated much of her medical debt. Vic, knowing that there are many musicians like her -unable to afford medical expenses and compromised in their ability to work- donated some of her proceeds from the album to found Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
The name of the fund derives from a song of Victoria’s, Opelousas (Sweet Relief) and the fact that we do provide sweet relief in the form of financial assistance to many musicians who would otherwise be in untenable predicaments.
The Mark Heard connection
Sweet Relief was not founded until the year after Mark's own health issues led to his untimely passing. It is exactly the kind of organization that would have benefited Mark and his family. Still, Victoria recorded What Kind Of Friend , one of Mark's songs, which appeared on Strong Hand of Love: A Tribute to Mark Heard (1994) and Orphans of God (1996). Both tribute records raised support for the Heard Family Fund.