LAKE BLUFF — Music has always been Lake Bluff native Austin Atteberry’s passion, but the serendipitous arrival of a new neighbor turned it into a way to bring delight to children around the world.
Atteberry, a Lake Forest High School graduate, melded his love for music with an enthusiasm for helping children nurtured by the woman he would eventually marry to found the Sing Me a Story Foundation in 2012. The organization is now based in Nashville.
Sing Me a Story encourages children around the world to write and illustrate a story about any subject they choose, according to Atteberry. He then finds a songwriter to put the story to music and furnishes the youngster with a recording of it.
Graduating from Northwestern University in 2006 with a degree in political science and international studies, Atteberry headed to Nashville two years later with one recorded song he wrote under his belt and hopes of more to come.
Then things changed.
“A beautiful girl moved in next door to me,” Atteberry said. “She worked (as a pediatric nurse) at the local children’s hospital and encouraged me to volunteer as a music volunteer.”
As Atteberry spent more and more time with children at the hospital, he got an idea. He had them write a story for him about a subject of their interest.
“I turned it into a song and sent them an MP3 for them to keep,” Atteberry said.
The beautiful girl was Sara Doschadis, according Atteberry. He said they cofounded the foundation in 2012 and were married a year later. It is now his full-time work.
Eventually, Atteberry said he got the idea he could mass produce children’s stories into music. He just needed more songwriters to help him out. He started promoting the idea and he found people willing to help.
Atteberry said the foundation now has more than 1,700 musical contributors and over 350 songs have been produced in North America and beyond as far away as Nepal, Africa and India. He said artists have flocked to the foundation.
“It’s mostly word of mouth,” Atteberry said. “It gives them a chance to do some good with music.”
At this point the foundation is focused providing the songs to what Atteberry calls children in need like those in hospitals, children’s homes and hospice care. It is not limited to just those.
“We want to work with any kids in serious need,” Atteberry said.
The songs are also fundraisers themselves to produce money to reach more children, according to Atteberry. He said people can to go the foundation’s website, listen to any of the songs they choose and sponsor it for a donation.