Who said you must be under 30 and beautiful to make it to Nashville? That may be the criteria for American Idol contestants, but not for late bloomer, Don Mathews of Galesburg, Michigan, whose song Tribute to EMS (Emergency Medical Services) has become a counseling tool for emergency responders around the world.
“I was shocked when I first learned about this,” said Mathews. “I wrote ‘Tribute to EMS’ because I had no one to talk to for counseling after a very traumatic call.” After 40 years in Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
it was difficult for Mathews to understand why he was not coping as time passed. He questioned God about his career choice and wondered if it mattered to anyone else. “I kept thinking about that call during church and when I went home I wrote the song ‘Tribute to EMS‘. Once I started writing I couldn’t stop. The words just flowed from me.”
After sharing the song with other EMS personnel, Mathews was encouraged to record Tribute to EMS and make it available to others in the profession. Uponhearing how emergency response personnel in the New York City (NYC) area were having trouble coping with the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Mathews sent the song to the City of New York Fire Department’s Counseling Services Unit who sent a letter that said, “We send you our gratitude for your letter and song. We passed it around the office and had many people listen to it, counselors, staff and firefighters alike. It was a topic of great discussion and everyone sends their thanks for being able to express what many cannot.”
Mathews believes that because of his 40-year EMS career he can related to other EMS workers on a personal level. “Even though I’m not a licensed counselor, when someone is having problems I can listen and understand where they are coming from,” Mathews said. “Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who’s been there.”
“Tribute to EMS” has made its way across the United States resulting in letters of thanks from fire stations in Los Angeles to ambulance garages in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Mathews has also received e-mail from EMS professionals in Bulgaria, New South Whales Australia, and Germany where the song lyrics have been translated to their own language for use in counseling sessions.
“I just wish I had a way to get it [Tribute to EMS] out to help all EMS workers. I just hope that all of my music will help somebody someplace.’’
Of all the letters Mathews has received, there’s one he treasures most. It says, “I applaud your commitment to service.” Your efforts reflect the true spirit of our Nation.” It was signed by then President, George W. Bush.
Since December 2004, Mathews has written 50 songs, mostly from places he had been from Portland, Oregon to Raleigh, North Carolina. While staying in Raleigh, he performed at Deep South, Oliver Twist, Scooters, The Berkeley Café, The Royal Bean, The Big Easy and MVPs, and he did some recording at Underground Sound Recording Studio in Greensboro.
Mathews has performed for Fire, EMS, and Military Personnel around the country at his own expense to help with everything from stress relief to fundraisers including the 10th Annual POW/MIA Balloon Launch on Memorial Day 2006 in Milwaukee, Wisc., and the T.K. and J.P. Music Fest [on the White House lawn?] in Washington, D.C. July 17-19, 2009. He has written and sung songs for military men and women who are enlisted, prisoners of war and homeless veterans. I have strong feelings about the plight of the homeless, especially our veterans and would love to raise money for homeless veterans.
So far Mathews has three Nashville releases: Angels in an Ambulance, Sugar & Spice, and You’re My Miracle. His first CD, Memories of You, is available to purchase online through CDBaby.com, and donmathewsenterprise.com
Mathews said he would love to break the odds in the music business and to hear one of his songs hit the Top 40 on the radio. “I’d like to get labels to think outside the box and understand that people like me have a lot to offer if they will take the time to listen,” he said.
Mathews, a BMI licensed artist working with the Artist Development Network in Nashville, Tenn., is seeking a label. He uses his down time to travel with his wife Ruth and perform. Their goal is to raise awareness of the need for nationwide support and counseling services for all Emergency Response Service. To Book Don Mathews, contact Chris Mathews by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org