Florence Welch is an unlikely star in 2016. Her band, Florence + The Machine, is excelling in a time when young rock acts rarely attract the same audiences as pop acts, superstar DJ’s, and rappers. She poses for the covers of magazines without makeup. Her songs are epic oeuvres with titles like “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful,” “Queen Of Peace,” and “What The Water Gave Me.” But between Welch’s astounding voice and her band’s ability to translate her songwriting into a huge sound, she has managed to become the sort of artist whose three night stand in Texas saw her band play venues like the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the American Airlines Center, and the Austin 360 Amphitheater.
But Welch didn’t just play those massive shows during her time in Texas: on Friday, after her performance at the Circuit of the Americas (and before she taped an appearance for the next season of Austin City Limits), Welch stopped by Austin Hospice, where a fifteen-year-old fan who had planned to attend her concert—but who doctors determined was too sick to leave the facility—got a private performance in her room.
The staff at Hospice Austin reached out to Welch 0n behalf of their patient. According to a post on Facebook, they were shocked to learn that the singer was going to stop by to sing for the fan.
[T]hrough a remarkable team effort on the part of Christopher House and Hospice Austin Staff, we were able to make contact with Florence. My patient’s mom was so nervous- will she really come? Is she here yet? She kept popping out of the room and checking. And Florence came. And her mom burst into tears of joy at the sight of her and Florence gave her a big hug. Florence walked around the corner to the patient’s room — stuffed to the gills with teen friends — and there were shrieks and squeals and so much joyous music and singing and tears and tears and tears of grief and joy and hope and love and utter devastation and somehow simple kindness made everything better. Many thanks to my wonderful colleagues who made this happen and to Florence + The Machine for giving an amazing gift of kindness.
The performance was captured by a few of the people present. The girl’s mother posted snippets of it on Instagram—a lovely rendition of “Shake It Out” in which Welch and the fan harmonize together through the chorus.
The medical facility posted a clip of Welch singing her breakthrough hit “The Dog Days Are Over” as the room claps along, and another of “Shake It Out” from a different angle than the teen’s mother caught.
Watching Welch direct the patient’s friends to join in the choruses, as her guitar player strums gently, strips down Welch’s bombastic arrangements into something that highlights exactly why she’s managed to become one of the few rock acts to smash through to festival headliner status in recent years—the songs work in a variety of ways, and they’re sung by someone who clearly means every word.