Brad Paisley on how a hospital performance at the age of 11 changed his perspective on music

ABC/Image Group LAWhen Brad Paisley was 11, his parents drove him to Reynolds Memorial Hospital in his hometown of Glen Dale, West Virginia so he could perform for hospital patients. The young singer was sent to the hospital's respite wing, which housed stroke victims, Alzheimer's and dementia patients -- and that set him on a path to make music his career.

As Brad recalls to the Nashville Tennessean, one woman had never said anything other than "O.K." When a staff member told Brad the woman's favorite song, however, he began playing and singing it -- it was "You Are My Sunshine" -- to her. Moments later, the woman began singing the song word for word with him.

“It became completely clear to me in that moment,” he told the Tennessean. “Music became something that felt like it had the power to heal people. It had the power to brighten someone’s day.”

He continues, “She sings with me, every word — ‘You make me happy when skies are gray’ — sort of on pitch. And then she goes back to 'O.K.' And that was it.”

Brad says he was emotionally touched and baffled by the experience. While he wasn't crying, his mother began sobbing as she watched the impact her son's musical talent had on the hospital patient.

“There were days when the last thing I wanted to do was go over [to] a hospital hallway that smells like antiseptic or worse, but I knew I’d be the only way to get more than the word 'O.K' out of her,” he reflects.

“You want to find other opportunities to make someone’s day. That was the moment that made me realize what I do can be very good for people if I use it the right way. Music is the closest thing we have to real magic.”

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