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Chris Cornell's Widow Establishes Music Therapy Program in His Memory

The program will help trauma-affected children in Cornell's hometown of Seattle.

by Amber Brenza
Jul 24 2017, 6:55pm

Chris and Vicky Cornell, Tara Ziemba / Getty Images

Chris Cornell, the late Soundgarden singer who died from suicide in May, would have turned 53 on Thursday. To commemorate his life, the singer's family foundation donated $100,000 to establish a music therapy program for children in Seattle that will bear his name, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The donation went to Childhaven, a Seattle-based nonprofit that offers childhood trauma therapy, and will be used to establish the Chris Cornell Music Therapy Program at Childhaven. According to the Times, the program will be "a therapeutic early learning model for trauma-affected children."

Childhaven works with children from birth to age 5 who have been affected by issues like abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and chemical dependence. The music therapy program named after Cornell will use music to help children process and express their feelings.

"Because of what they've experienced, a lot of children come to Childhaven struggling with anger and other overwhelming emotions," Seattle musician Brian Vogan, who works in music therapy at Childhaven, told the Times. "Being able to beat on drums is really helpful for them. Other kids are very shy, and music helps to bring them out of their shell."

Chris' widow Vicky said in a statement to the Times: "Chris and I always shared a strong belief in the healing and inspiring power of music, and through Childhaven's establishment of this program, we are able to keep the promise for Chris by continuing to protect the world's most vulnerable children."

The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation has supported Childhaven's music therapy program in the past, donating portions of ticket sales from Cornell's 30-city tour in 2013.

Cornell died in Detroit on May 17 while on tour with Soundgarden. Following initial reports, the family issued statements saying Cornell would not have taken his life unless he was under the influence of substances. They suspected he may have taken more than the recommended dose of the anxiety medicine Ativan; the drug's side effects include suicidal thoughts. In June, the Wayne County Medical Examiner released the singer's autopsy and toxicology report, confirming that Cornell's manner of death was suicide by hanging, and though seven different drugs were found in Cornell's system—including a much higher amount of Ativan than is normal; four doses' worth—the medical examiner did not believe drugs contributed to Cornell's death. Cornell also had the sedative Butalbital in his system.

Cornell, a Seattle native, was also the lead vocalist for the rock group Audioslave, and provided the theme for the 2006 James Bond movie, Casino Royale.

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