Standing at half-court, thousands of fans with their hands over their hearts and all eyes on you. That’s where Novant Health nurse Tracey Gabriel found herself this winter as she began to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before a Charlotte Hornets game.
While this might seem nerve-racking for some, Gabriel had an inkling things would go well. She was working late one night at Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina when a colleague told her about the singing opportunity.
Right then and there, fellow nurses asked her to belt out the song in the nursery full of newborns. As her voice filled the room, the fussy infants began to hush and by the end of the song they’d all stopped crying. Good enough for newborns, good enough for an arena packed with NBA fans.
‘Music can heal’
Gabriel came to healthcare a little later in life. She’d been selling cars at a Charlotte area auto dealership for several years when she decided it was time for a change. Through trial and tribulation she eventually found her way into nursing by following her heart.
“I always knew that I wanted to help people and take care of people,” she said. “I can remember being a child and dreaming of myself in scrubs.”
In 2007, she made the decision to go to nursing school, even though she already had her hands full raising two small children. After graduating in 2011, she began her new life. As she embarked on her new career, she learned that music can have a role in patient care now and then.
“I think music can heal,” Gabriel said. While completing her residency for nursing school, Gabriel recalls once singing “Amazing Grace” to a woman at her bedside. “This makes me feel emotional, but I felt like she knew that it was something that I was bringing to her and giving to her as a gift.”