Thursday, June 20, 2024

Scandal Threatens Future of Grammy Award Charity MusiCares: Chairman Rallies the Troops with Message


The Michael McDonald who is chairman of MusiCares is not the star who sings “What a Fool Believes.” (He’s a very nice guy anyway.)

This Michael McDonald is a former tour manager and member of the music industry community who battled his own demons once a long time ago.

He writes on the MusiCares homepage: “I was introduced to MusiCares as a client. About 18 years ago, I decided I needed to get sober,” says McDonald. “[I was] referred to someone at MusiCares, Neil Lasher. He connected me with free group therapy [and addiction counseling] twice a week here in New York City. … There was no paperwork, no nothing (laughs). It was that simple.”

McDonald sent out a message today to the troops of MusiCares to reassure them: the charity goes on despite recent accusations and scandals. I’m reprinting his message here because no matter what MusiCares (despite often seating me by the kitchen) is really important. They are the organization always there for musicians in trouble. They’ll survive this latest contretemps.

Read McDonald’s letter:

Dear Friends,

By now, you may have seen the headlines and heard the allegations made by a former MusiCares employee about the 2018 Person of the Year event and workplace harassment. With any charity, trust is earned and can never be taken for granted. That’s why I want to write you all—to address the rumors and clarify some important truths. 

First and foremost, I want to say that we take the allegations made by our former employee very seriously. Accordingly, I, along with Recording Academy Chairman John Poppo, have selected and hired the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP to conduct an independent investigation of these recent allegations. Needless to say, we welcome their findings and will act on their recommendations.

As you know, MusiCares provides a range of critical support for music people in need. With each passing year, our goal is to do more, to give more, and to serve a greater number of people. Our mission remains singular: to help music people in need.

  • In the last fiscal year alone, MusiCares provided $5.9 million to 7,900 members of the music industry—the largest number of clients we’ve served and dollars we’ve distributed in a single year. 
  • Thanks to the generosity of supporters like you who provide both your time and financial resources, we expect to do even more good this year, providing $6.3 million to nearly 9,000 music people. 
  • This year, once again, Charity Navigator gave MusiCares a 4-star rating—the independent charity watchdog’s highest mark for financial health, accountability, and transparency. Less than 15% of all rated charities have achieved this honor four years in a row. MusiCares is among that trusted class. 

Finally, although I can only share so much on this topic due to legal and privacy issues, I also want to reiterate one key fact: The employment of our former staff member ended after a full investigation.
As a beneficiary of MusiCares’ services and someone for whom integrity is paramount, it’s been tough to see the integrity of an organization that has done so much good come into question as a result of allegations made by a single individual. While we work to investigate and address these allegations, please rest assured that MusiCares will continue to provide the best level of service possible to support our community—that will not change.

Michael McDonald 
Chairman, MusiCares 

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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