Sheryl Crow on How to Fight Cancer: "It’s Really About Funding"

Crow performs tomorrow at Sun Life Stadium.
Crow performs tomorrow at Sun Life Stadium.
Photo by Alex Markow

In 1994, all Sheryl Crow wanted to do was have a good time. Now she's more interested in good causes.
On Saturday, the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter will perform alongside Melissa Etheridge at the sixth-annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge. The event features a 5k that participants can walk/run or choose from six different cycling rides. It all culminates with a star-studded concert at Sun Life Stadium.

Crow is someone familiar with both Florida (she has a home in Destin) and unfortunately with cancer too, which makes her the ideal act for the upcoming fundraiser. We spoke to Crow over the phone about her philanthropy, how teachers get shortchanged, her personal connection to the event, and the music that takes her back.

New Times: First of all, happy belated birthday. Did you do anything special?
Sheryl Crow: Thank you. I went out with my kids. They took me to see Kung-Fu Panda, so it was a hot little date with a couple of good-looking boys.

You recently donated $21,000 to your alma mater. What brought about this spontaneous show of generosity?
There’s this great organization called Adopt-a-Classroom.org, and their sole objective is to get money to teachers to buy supplies for their room. Basically the average expenditure for each teacher is between $600 and $1,000 of their own money. Obviously, I think, teachers are undercompensated for the job that they do. This is an opportunity to support teachers in their community, and it’s a tax writeoff, and all the way around, it’s a great situation. My sisters, one of them is still teaching, one of them used to be a teacher. I was a teacher, and my sister-in-law is a teacher. What brought this about is that my sister was looking to buy something for her classroom and couldn’t because she didn’t have the money. It just unnerved me that teachers have to spend their own money to buy the things they need for their classrooms. I had the idea of starting this organization, and when we checked it out, we found that it already existed, which is fantastic, so we partnered with them and used my celebrity to bring this issue to light.

Your upcoming concert will help benefit cancer research, and you’ve had a few health scares of your own, and of course you have the Sheryl Crow Imaging Center, so obviously this is near and dear to your heart. Do you think there’s anything else the general public can do in our efforts against cancer?
First and foremost, on a personal level, my message is always that women are diligent about getting our mammograms and doing self-exams and just staying on top of our own health care. Girding ourselves with the knowledge of what our family genetics might be. As far as what we can do to help end cancer, it’s really about funding. It’s about getting money to these places that commit their time and energy towards finding a cure. Obviously, there’s a lot of controversy about stem cells, embryonic stem cells in general. I think if people can educate themselves where they can give money and support these causes, it goes a long way, particularly with the economy the way it is and the government is spending less and less on research.

Speaking of money, last year, there were several cancer charities that were revealed by the FBI to be shams. What are your thoughts on that? What would say to those people?
Well, I would say what anyone else would say: Shame on you. I really love allying myself with organizations like the Miami Dolphins charity. They use 100 percent of the funds they raise towards cancer research. You know, it happens, but I think the positive stories outweigh the negative stories. Generally the people who use charities as a front, they get their comeuppance eventually. I just try to focus my energies on those organizations that are out there really doing what I like to refer to as God’s work.

So often, music takes us back to a specific time and place. Are there any of your songs that transport you somewhere else, for better or worse?
Well, you know, it’s interesting, I made a record called Detours, and it was a very personal record for me. One of the songs on it was directly related to my cancer experience. The song is called “Make It Go Away.” Not very often do I listen to my own records — in fact, I would say never. But when we were compiling the best-of, I went through some of the recordings, and I happened upon that one, and it definitely took me back to the times that I was going through radiation and personal upheaval that was surrounding all that. And songs can do that — they can have a life of their own, or they can take you back, or they can be your own meaning for you depending on what you’re going through at the time. I have several of those that I have that experience with. 

Dolphins Cancer Challenge with Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge. 2 p.m. Saturday, February 20, at Sun Life Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens. Tickets cost $50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com

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Sun Life Stadium

2269 NW 199th St.
Miami Gardens, FL 33056

305-623-6100

www.sunlifestadium.com


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