In January of 2007, founding member and Musical Director of the FORMAX Group, Stephen Bruton was diagnosed with throat cancer. Stephen immediately went into intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment. Four long months later, Stephen led the band through rehearsal to prepare for the event “Road To Austin”, he was only one week out of treatment and in very poor health. Seven days later with typical Bruton swagger, he courageously walked in front of 20,000 people and led his fifteen-piece band through 38 songs for nearly four hours of non-stop entertainment and the evening was declared “Stephen Bruton Night” by then Austin Mayor, Will Wynn....and the rest is history!
What most people do not know is that Stephen had not eaten solid food in over three months, and during the performance with a medical team standing by, had to leave the stage numerous times between songs to have nutrients poured into him through a feeding tube attached directly into his stomach. Two years later almost to the day and after two more full rounds of chemotherapy and experimental clinical trials, Stephen tragically lost his long hard battle to cancer and died in May of 2009.
The last project that Stephen Bruton worked on directly before he passed was the movie “Crazy Heart” that was released in 2010. Stephen not only wrote six of the songs featured in the movie, but he also scored the accompanying sound track. In addition, Stephen worked as the coach on set daily to the movie’s featured star, Jeff Bridges. Jeff won the Best Actor” Academy Award for his performance in this role, and Stephen won a GRAMMY Award for the music, but unfortunately was not alive at the time to actually receive it.
The songs written by Stephen for “Crazy Heart” and performed by Jeff Bridges, have received posthumous critical acclaim. The movie’s sound track alone has sold well over 200,000 copies. This retail success and heightened awareness of Stephen Bruton’s career has created a heightened demand for his work and legacy.
The “Road to Austin” is the crescendo of Stephen’s influence and celebrity relationships, including his 40-year contribution to the success of American icon Kris Kristofferson.
The “Artist Wellness Program” initiated in Stephen’s name is an amazing step forward in affording the creative community a way of measuring and maintaining their daily health and wellness, and bolstering their overall quality of life.