The Good Life: St. Joseph hospital VP plays guitar gigs by night

Dr. O’Rell Williams plays guitar during Concerts in the Park at Gengler Park.
Dr. O’Rell Williams plays guitar during Concerts in the Park at Gengler Park.

When Dr. O’Rell Williams, vice president of medical affairs at Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital – St. Joseph Campus, isn’t on the job, you might catch him on stage playing a gig around town.

A Milwaukee native, Williams received a guitar as a Christmas present from his mother when he was in fifth grade and has been playing ever since. He has played for live audiences, including a stint touring with The Commodores the summer after Lionel Richie left to pursue his solo career.

“I used to have this big old Prince mane – people used to say, ‘Look at that kid playing the guitar. He looks like Prince,’” Williams said.

He later went on to work as a firefighter for 14 years, during which he played in a band with other members of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

“We played a lot of the festivals, the Third Ward Jazz Festival, and other events,” Williams said. “It was really cool.”

After pursuing his career in medicine, he put performing on the back burner until an opportunity arose last summer during Concerts in the Park at Gengler Park, located across the street from St. Joseph hospital.

Milwaukee band Christopher’s Project was scheduled to play. Williams offered to pitch in as a guitarist.

“We played a few songs and it was so much fun,” Williams said. “It was a blast.”

Since then, Williams has played more gigs with Christopher’s Project, including a performance for the Morning Blend, Real Milwaukee and the Divas of Soul tribute show at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

Get our email updates

Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.