You may have heard Luke Wade as a finalist on NBC’s The Voice earlier this year. The Dublin, Texas native did well, with his soulful vocals showcased with material as varied as Stand By Me, Rich Girl, and Maybe I’m Amazed.
Though he didn’t win the competition, he made a big impression. Since the, Wade’s career has taken off, with constant shows and touring, both solo and with his band, No Civilians. With his network television exposure, Wade can now play in larger venues and command more of the spotlight.
But the 30-year-old Wade, who moved to Fort Worth in 2009, isn’t all about bigger crowds.
I watched him recently in front of a small crowd of about 25, most under the age of 10, with many in the audience attached to a variety of medical devices and sporting bandages. He was playing his third gig at Cook Children’s Medical Center’s Child Life Zone (CLZ), a place set aside at the hospital where patients can go to just be kids. The CLZ includes a recording studio and, at times, a stage for performers like Wade.
Wade, who sports nearly as much charm as he does talent, joked with his audience and talked to them a bit about life.
“If you’ve got something you want to do, just do it,” he said, presaging a song titled Life’s a Long Time to Waste. “Then, when it gets harder and you don’t have time or whatever, just do it. And eventually, you’ll bring that world, whatever it is, to yourself. That’s what I’ve experienced.”
That was about as heavy as it got as he also gave his young audience some tried-and-true musician humor.
“What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless.”
He also gave them a little education, informing the kids that it was not Kanye West who discovered Paul McCartney, before launching into a tour de force version of Maybe I’m Amazed.
It was Wade’s agent, Amy Smith who got him involved at Cook Children’s. He had performed there twice before he mentioned it to his mother.
She said, oh yeah, they saved your life as a kid. What’s that again, Wade wondered?
“I knew I was sick as a kid, but I didn’t know it was here and the folks at Cook Children’s, actually, their care kept me alive and kept me from brain damage.”
Those experiences now inform Wade’s performances at Cook Children’s.
“I was in hospitals a lot as a kid and you’re still growing and you don’t know who you are really,” he said. “I had an eye injury, a bacterial infection, severe heat stroke and I had mild amnesia – these little things made me feel like not a whole person as a kid.
“Whenever you’re sick it’s easy to feel like a little monster because other people are afraid of being sick or being hurt because they’re being faced with a visualization of their own mortality. So they avoid the very people who need them the most.”
These sick kids want whatever other kids want, Wade says. “They want to be accepted, they want to be loved. That’s the thing I get. It’s not fair to get in your own way [with your own fears] for these kids. They’ve got enough going on without that.”
The Child Life Zone brings back that feeling of just being a kid, he says. “They can play music, they can exercise their brains, and be a kid. That’s something I really believe in and I wanted to give back however I could.”
All proceeds from Wade’s The Runaround album, available for download on iTunes, benefit the Child Life Zone at Cook Children’s Hospital.
Wade is being honored at the Fort Worth Business Press’ HealthCare Heroes event on Jan. 28 as Volunteer of the Year.