Feel the Beat

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A former FAU student hits all the right notes at South Florida hospitals.

Of all the stages he plays as a touring musician, it’s the one without the microphone, the sound check and the paying audience that invariably givesPhil Barnes the most satisfaction.

At least twice a week when he’s in town, the Fort Lauderdale resident brings nothing more than his guitar and a smile to South Florida health-care facilities from Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood to Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami. It’s time that the 22-year-old singer/songwriter is honored to donate as a member of Musicians on Call, a nonprofit formed in 1999 that brings music to hospital patients throughout the country.

“Sometimes, you walk into a room where someone has just heard the worst news of their life, and you’re [able to bring] a little bit of light for about three or four minutes,” Barnes says. “I don’t find anything else more rewarding.”

For Barnes, the performances strike a personal chord. He recalls singing for his older brother, Adam, who spent his life in and out of hospitals after being struck by a drunk driver at age 3. Though Adam couldn’t speak, he would smile in response to Barnes’ songs.

For more on this story, pick up the January issue of Boca Raton magazine.