Dr. Elvis Francois and his talented longtime friend and fellow resident, Dr. William Robinson, were dressed in denim and casual shoes on Wednesday night, June 24. Both dedicated surgeons were still seeing patients, only in a very different setting.Friends, neighbors, patients, and familiar doctors and nurses stretched from the outer lawn of the Forager Brewery to the patio, with all in attendance being socially distanced, as reported by CBS local Minnesota affiliate WCCO and the Post Bulletin. The event was very much “by appointment only” with reservations made far in advance, even though neither physician donned scrubs.
Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson were there to give thanks and farewell to the Mayo Clinic community that has been home for the past five years, and the mutual affection flowed in abundance.Music is medicine beyond imagination for Elvis FrancoisIt was in late March this year when the entire world was reeling under the siege of the coronavirus crisis when the world was introduced to the celestial and soulful voice of Dr. Elvis Francois. The appreciation of the medical profession was expressed as never before in the wake of surging patient losses and the critical lack of personal protective equipment. The respite of comfort, hope, and relief that washed over everyone who heard and saw Francois’ rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” sitting beside Robinson and surrounded by a sparse gathering of hospital staff, was utterly consuming.
Suddenly, throngs of viewers caught up to performances by Elvis Francois on the surgeon’s YouTube channel, from schools to civic functions, and of course, from the hospital. Dr. Francois frequently broke into song by patients’ bedsides, or with a lab technician who was feeling low. This truly good doctor shared his gift with anyone and everyone he encountered, and soon, morning TV Shows, like “CBS This Morning” and many more were sharing Elvis’ uplifting story.
Ellen DeGeneres took notice of the dynamic duo two years ago, when they confessed that patients pushed them out of the way to see the afternoon TV favorite.The limelight and the evening sunset were poised just for Dr. Elvis Francois and William Robinson’s performance this week. Robinson reflected on what made this adopted hometown moment so special.
“Rochester, Minnesota was a place for us to work, and now it’s become our home and everything we know,” relates the resident who really makes the ivories shine. He admits that he and Elvis have “gained success with our music, but we’re nothing without our origin, our roots.”“Incredible” was the word that came to Elvis Francois in describing the support from the community, coworkers, and friends. He hasn’t wavered in his belief in the power of music, and that while “surgery and medicine can go so far, music really heals and touches people in ways medicine can’t.”In every doctor could conjure the heavenly tones of these dedicated surgeons and musicians, illness could be vanquished by the partnership of good practice and great music.
The setlist from Elvis Francois was a lovefest from start to finishBesides the Bill Withers classic, “Lean on Me,” which has become the daily anthem for these #AllinThisTogether days of unified struggle and uncertainty, the crowd was treated to Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” with unique runs that only Dr. Elvis Francois to deliver. There was also the Elvis Presley love song, “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” as a necessary nod to the surgeon’s namesake.Francois has described that singing comes as easily as breathing for him, and he insists that “the small things, small acts of kindness can go a long way” to our combined health and wholeness as a society, along with sound science.Fans in the crowd seemed to have their own personal reasons for deciding to be present one last time.
“I like to say I knew him when,” said one woman—“to catch the wind of his wave.”At age 10, Aidan Blackburn, was another attendee, along with the well-wishers. He is a frequent patient at the Mayo Clinic, currently waiting for a kidney. “It’s coming,” the resilient boy echoes from within. “You gotta have hope– that’s what music gives me—hope.” Aidan sat in his mother’s lap, swaying gently and soaking in every note.Music and medicine can always coexist for Dr. Elvis Francois and William RobinsonRochester will always be the place where these “singing surgeons” feel at home, no matter the career horizons that await them in their profession. Still, Dr. Elvis Francois is Boston-bound to continue his training, while Dr.
William Robinson is headed for Philadelphia.Neither virtuoso has any intention of surrendering the scalpel for the stage after so many years of commitment, passion, and hard work. Instead, Elvis and William will always find a way to make music together, and they have some impressive standing gigs.After an exquisite performance of “God Bless America” for the Indy 500 “Back Home Again” special last month, the duo was invited back to open the official Indy 500 whenever health and safety conditions allow. Their album, “Music Is Medicine” was released in April, with proceeds going toward COVID-19 relief efforts. Countless charity concerts likely are already booked far into the future if the dedicated docs can spare an hour.
Wherever Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson go to save lives, their powerful gifts will be healing bodies, minds, and spirits.