Shana Halligan on Teaming Up with Children’s Music Fund: “Music Releases Endorphins and Restores Lost Abilities”

Shana Halligan

By Laura Ferreiro

Music can fuel dance parties, fill stadiums and make our rush-hour commutes much more bearable, but many studies confirm that music does much more. It can help heal numerous physical and mental conditions and ailments, ease pain and elevate spirits.

Putting these studies into practice, the Children’s Music Fund (CMF) provides music therapy to children and young adults who suffer from chronic conditions and life-altering illnesses. The non-profit finds ways to bring music into hospitals where the children are being treated, as well as into their homes to help expedite their healing processes. It also conducts research to measure the impact music has on children to help ensure its programs are as effective and meaningful as they can be.

Renowned singer Shana Halligan – former lead vocalist for Bitter:Sweet who’s now working as a solo artist – recently became a spokesperson for CMF and will perform at a benefit concert for the organization on June 25 at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles.

“I was invited to perform at one of [CMF’s] fundraisers by a friend of mine and it was there that I learned about what incredible things they do,” Halligan tells Music for Good. “Over the past year we stayed in touch. I consistently asked how I could help, and a few months later they asked me to be their spokesperson!”

Through Children’s Music Fund, Jessie uses music therapy to promote physical rehabilitation and regulate breathing.

Halligan was drawn to the organization because she knows first-hand how powerful music can be. “We all know how music can change your mood in a moment,” she says. “It is the purest and most authentic wave you can sail on. There is no greater joy for me than being able to give through music. The idea that I can do what I love, bring people together in one room and help raise awareness and financial support for such an incredible organization is so inspiring.”

As a new parent, this cause had an even greater impact on Halligan. “Having recently given birth to a baby boy of my own, I have an even deeper connection with children,” she explains. “Looking into the eyes of my sweet, perfect little guy, I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak that other, less fortunate parents and children must feel when faced with these life-altering diseases.”

Halligan has witnessed the tremendous impact that music has on these children’s lives and believes in its potential to ease many conditions. “In pain management, music provides a distraction and cognitive imagery to aid in relaxation,” she explains. “Music releases endorphins which feel good! It can also help restore lost abilities such as speech or motor skills that may have been lost due to a brain injury. It improves the quality of life and confidence in these children and gives them a sense of purpose. They play, sing, write, listen, feel, and get lost in the natural healing abilities of song.”

The singer looks forward to spending time working and creating with the children when she visits them in the hospital this summer. Meanwhile, she’s excited about the CMF benefit concert and promoting her soulful and sultry new album, Back To Me. She’s also collaborating with Thievery Corporation on a new album and has several other projects in the works.

Grab your tickets for the all-ages CMF benefit concert featuring Halligan here.

Switchfoot Returns with 12th Annual Bro-Am Benefiting Youth

Switchfoot perform at the annual charity Bro-Am. Photo: Nick King

By James Pleasant

Alternative rock band Switchfoot will host its 12th annual Bro-Am charity event on July 9 — an event founded to benefit charities for underprivileged children in the San Diego area.

Bro-Am, which usually draws more than 15,000 people, will feature a surfing contest and a free concert with performances from Switchfoot, American Authors, Parachute, Josh Garrels, Brynn Elliott, and an as-yet unannounced local artist.

Last year’s Bro-Am drew boards and bikinis galore, and this year is bound to do the same, with plenty of colorful costumes on hand and expert surfers battling it out alongside kids and music fans of all shapes and sizes.

The Hurley- and iHeartMedia-sponsored event will benefit organizations including the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, Feeding America San Diego, StandUp for Kids, and the Rob Machado Foundation in an attempt to improve the lives of homeless, impoverished, or troubled youth who have limited opportunities due to their socioeconomic status.

Kids compete at the 2015 Bro-Am. Photo: Nick King

Children 16 and under will also have the chance to compete in the Rob Machado Bro Junior Surf Contest, named after famed surfer Rob Machado. Adults can participate in several other surfing competitions such as the Bro-Am Team Surf Contest and the More BRO than PRO Contest. In addition to the competitions, Bro-Am will host surf lessons for kids or anyone who wants to learn the sport.

“The Switchfoot Bro-Am began in 2005 as an unplausible dream that three of our favorite things – surfing, music, and the local community – could collide for a day in a way that gives back to the town that has given us so much,” said Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s vocalist. “To see our hometown come together and help deserving kids is an incredible experience.”

The Bro-Am festivities will begin on July 8 with the Bro-Am Benefit party, which will gather musicians, philanthropists and others in the San Diego area for a night full of good eats, cocktails, auctions and live performances.

Switchfoot has raised more than $1 million for San Diego’s youth charities since the inaugural Bro-Am event in 2005. For additional information about the 12th annual Bro-Am, click here.

Demi Lovato, The Lumineers, Andra Day and More Launch MusiCares Social Media Challenge

Demi Lovato supports the MusiCares Challenge

By Kennedi Johnson

The music community is a tight-knit group, so it comes as no surprise that there’s an organization created by music people for music people. This organization, the MusiCares Foundation, recently launched an innovative social media campaign, the #MusiCaresChallenge, to encourage people to support musicians in need by posing with their favorite albums.

The challenge asks music fans and musicians to take a snap or a video of themselves holding their favorite album, and post it to social media with the hashtag #MusiCaresChallenge. Those participating can then make a donation to the MusiCares Foundation and tag five friends to join in on the challenge.

The Lumineers support the MusiCares Challenge

Pop star Demi Lovato championed the cause by posting a picture of herself with her current favorite album, Beyoncé’s Lemonade. In addition to Lovato, several other celebrities are lending their time and support to the campaign including Troye Sivan, Andra Day, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, and the Backstreet Boys.

All proceeds from the campaign will be directed to those in need within the music community. To watch a video detailing the challenge and showcasing the celebrities involved, click here.

Described as the “music industry’s Red Cross,” the MusiCares Foundation is a non-profit founded by the Recording Academy to provide critical assistance and healthcare programs for members of the music community, including addiction recovery support and disaster relief. To date, MusiCares has provided more than $43 million in services and helped approximately 80,000 people.

Although it’s primarily known for the annual Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy has long been committed to lending a helping hand to members of the musical world in need. To find out more about the MusiCares Foundation, the Grammy Awards and the Recording Academy, click here.

Fitz and the Tantrums Drummer Launches Coffee Business That Gives Back

Fitz and the Tantrums. Photo: Joseph Cultice

By Laura Ferreiro

The life of a successful, touring musician can be hectic and demanding, but John Wicks, drummer for Fitz and the Tantrums, has found time not only to open up a popular café in his hometown, but also to ensure that it gives back to the local community.

After being a barista for years before his musical career took off, Wicks developed a passion for making good coffee and bringing people together in a relaxed, casual atmosphere to enjoy the java.

“I worked as a barista in Seattle for over 10 years back in the ‘90s,” Wicks explains to Music for Good. “Coffee provided me with income, a flexible schedule so that I could pursue my musical dreams, notoriety, a social life and a love for the craft of making espresso.” These passions inspired him to recently open Drum Coffee in his adopted hometown of Missoula, Montana.

What’s more, Wicks ensures that Drum Coffee supports the local community by donating a percentage of its sales to renowned charities voted on by its customers. “We choose three local non-profit organizations quarterly,” says the renowned percussionist who co-founded Fitz and the Tantrums and has played with artists including B.O.B., George Clinton, David Byrne, Meshell Ndegeocello, Chocolate Genius, Money Mark and RZA. “Each time a customer makes a purchase, he or she may vote for one of the three non-profits we are supporting at that time. We then allocate two percent of sales based on the number of votes each organization receives during the three-month donation period.”

Drum Coffee currently supports the local YWCA as well as Animeals, a no-kill pet adoption center and food bank, and Open Aid Alliance, which provides free HIV testing and AIDS prevention education and outreach.

John Wicks. Photo: Joseph Cultice

Wicks was a big fan of the casual, communal meeting-house vibe of the Seattle coffee houses where he worked in the ‘90s, which he believes is absent from most cafes these days. “Unfortunately, the ‘third wave’ of coffee culture that is happening now has taken a lot of the social aspect and fun out of the experience,” he says. “While the quality of coffee is higher than it ever has been, and the science and methodical preparation is incredible, the fun is gone. Most cafes I go into now are very museum-like. The baristas are intimidating, folks are scared of seeming stupid, and the atmosphere is quiet with folks mainly there for free WiFi. I pined for the casual vibe of the ‘90s Seattle coffeehouses and the social aspect of Italian cafes. I wanted to provide a meeting place for the neighborhood to come together and chat, gossip, and rub elbows with one another and the barista.”

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Paul McCartney, Sting and Other Top Musicians Launch ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ Campaign for Music Education

Paul McCartney

By Kennedi Johnson

“Every kid deserves the right to learn an instrument,” says musical icon Paul McCartney. “If it hadn’t been for my dad giving me a trumpet on my 14th birthday, which I traded for a Framus Zenith guitar, I’d have never joined the Beatles.”

In order to secure the chance for every American child to learn how to sing or play an instrument, countless musicians are lending their time and support to the Don’t Stop the Music campaign. Based on a 2014 televised campaign in the UK, Don’t Stop the Music is a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of music education programs in the United States. It enjoys the support of a number of leading musical icons including McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Harry Connick Jr., Aloe Blacc, My Morning Jacket, O.A.R, and many others.

The year-long campaign launched on May 16 with a 10-day eBay auction. Don’t Stop the Music’s supporting artists donated some phenomenal auction items such as two VIP tickets for McCartney’s U.S. tour, a signed saxophone from Bill Clinton’s private collection, tickets to an Alabama Shakes concert, and sheet music autographed by Sting. You can bid on auction items here. Although the auction closes on May 26, the campaign will continue over the course of the next 12 months.

In early 2017, Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. will host a documentary special featuring some of today’s most accomplished musicians. Keeping in theme with Don’t Stop the Music’s mission, the documentary will emphasize the importance of music education in our schools. The documentary will be televised on PBS stations nationwide.

Next, Don’t Stop the Music will host a star-studded, A-list concert in the Spring of 2017. The concert will recognize the innovative, passionate, and inspiring educators and students who make music education possible.

And finally, Don’t Stop the Music has organized a year-long musical instrument drive. The drive will take place in eight hub cities and other designated towns and communities. Instruments will be collected, refurbished and distributed to more than 250,000 music students and educators across the country.

To find out more about Don’t Stop the Music or donate to the campaign, click here.

Rihanna Launches Global College Scholarship Program

Rihanna

By James Pleasant

Pop megastar Rihanna wants students around the world to achieve their full potential as global citizens. As a result, she and the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) – which she founded in 2012 to honor her grandparents – launched a global scholarship program to provide students around the world with full-ride college scholarships.

The CLF will award students in Barbados, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica and the United States between $5,000-$50,000 in scholarship money, which will be renewed until the completion of the students’ bachelor’s degrees. Applications for the 2016-2017 school year will be accepted until June 10, and winners will be announced in August.

“To be able to give the gift of an education is actually an honor,” said Rihanna. “Higher education will help provide perspective, opportunities and learning to a group of kids who really deserve it.  I am thrilled to be able to do this.”

All applicants must have already been accepted into a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited four-year college in order to qualify for the scholarship. Fifty students will be selected for the 2016-2017 school year, and qualification will be based on academic performance, leadership, work experience and an essay. Students must maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average in order to qualify for renewal of the scholarship.

The “Work” singer is no slouch when it comes to philanthropy. In 2008, Rihanna helped raise awareness for HIV/AIDS through H&M’s Fashion Against AIDS project. In 2012, she donated $1.75 million to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in her hometown of Bridgetown, Barbados.

Other foundations and campaigns Rihanna supports include MusiCares, Red Cross, Hope for Haiti, Live Earth, Grammy Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association.

For more information about the scholarship, click here. To learn more about the Clara Lionel Foundation, click here.

Members of Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple & Cheap Trick Front Star-Studded Benefit for Adopt the Arts

Drummer and Adopt the Arts Cofounder Matt Sorum

By Kennedi Johnson

With arts-based curriculum increasingly becoming a footnote in American education, organizations that strive to preserve and protect arts in public schools are all the more important. One such organization is the LA-based charity, Adopt the Arts.

On May 12, Adopt the Arts will host a live benefit concert at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre featuring an illustrious lineup of rockers, including Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Adopt the Arts cofounder and former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum, his former Guns N’ Roses’ bandmate Gilby Clarke, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, and many more.

In addition to the rockin’ concert, Adopt the Arts will host a live and silent auction. Some of the auction items include a color print photo of Prince from rock photographer Gene Kirkland, a canvas screen print signed by Woody Guthrie, an African safari, and guitars signed by bands including Metallica, Maroon 5 and Journey. All proceeds collected from ticket sales, donations, and sold auction items will benefit Adopt the Arts’ Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary school music programs.

Founded by Sorum and activist Abby Berman, Adopt the Arts aims to reach public schools across the nation, but the primary beneficiaries are schools in the LAUSD. The LAUSD arts-based curriculum has been floundering due to the lack of commitment to the preservation of the arts and a decrease in arts education funding. Without the support of Adopt the Arts, many LAUSD students would not have access to arts education, as an estimated 80% of its students live at or below the poverty level.

“Adopt the Arts was born out of frustration for my own children losing education in the arts,” says Berman. “Because Federal and State funding is falling short, the responsibility is upon us as concerned parents and citizens to ensure we’re raising a new generation of healthy and well-rounded individuals.”

To purchase tickets to the concert, make a donation, or to learn more about Adopt the Arts, click here.

Haim, Beth Ditto, ZZ Ward & More for Girls Rock Camp Foundation Event

Haim

By Kennedi Johnson

There are certainly plenty of amazing girls who rock, but in a male-dominated music industry, it’s hard to deny that we need to nurture more rockin’ girls. That’s where the Girls Rock Camp Foundation comes in. Since 2014, the organization has provided funding and support to Girls Rock Camps nationwide. On Friday April 29, the Foundation will present its first annual “Girls to the Front” gala at LA’s Chateau Marmont.

The event will be hosted by writer, comedian, and Golden Globe-winning actress Rachel Bloom. Singer-songwriter and the Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto will be the event’s VIP dinner host. Ditto will be accompanied by singer-songwriter ZZ Ward and indie pop duo Tegan and Sara. There will also be a special performance by the LA-based sister rock group HAIM.

“Girls to the Front” will honor the pop songwriting duo Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter. Michaels and Tranter have collaborated together on Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” and Selena Gomez’s “Good for You”.  They have also been sought out by many other renowned musicians including Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love and John Legend.

In addition to Michaels and Tranter, Ethiopia Habtemariam will be honored at the event. Habtemariam is the President of Motown Records, the President of Urban Music, and Co-Head of Creative at Universal Publishing Music Group. Her accomplishments have landed her on Billboard’s highly acclaimed “40 under 40”, “30 under 30”, and “Women in Music” lists.

The event’s star-studded honorary committee is worth mentioning as well: Kristen Bell, Margaret Cho, Marianne Faithfull, Kathryn Hahn, Kathleen Hanna, Cyndi Lauper, Reba McEntire, Rose McGowan, Yoko Ono, Katy Perry, Chloe Sevigny, Carly Simon, Tegan and Sara, and AGI’s Marsha Vlasic.

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Pabst Blue Ribbon Grants Bands’ Wishes Through the PBR Music Foundation

By James Pleasant

Burgeoning bands often face countless obstacles on the road to success, whether it’s a broken down tour van, unexpected illness or even a chance encounter with a crocodile who gobbles up all of their gear (it could happen!) Luckily, Pabst Blue Ribbon is coming to the rescue with its recently launched PBR Music Foundation—a brand-new organization dedicated to helping musicians in need.

Here’s how it works. Musicians and bands from any genre are welcome to seek support from the PBR Music Foundation. They simply need to submit a sincere video explaining why they need the assistance.

Each month, PBR Music Foundation will award one band or musician a grant to help them overcome any hardships they’re facing in maintaining their music career and continuing their dreams.

“Touring bands and musicians know all too well the roadblocks (sometimes literally) that can hurt or hinder their road to success,” the Milwaukee-based brewing company said in a statement. “A van might break down, get a flat, or need a new transmission, or maybe the lead singer got hit with a flying bottle at a show and needs stitches. At the end of the day, these things cost precious time and money, and the more trouble a band has bouncing back quickly the longer it might take them to reach their full potential.”

To qualify, bands and musicians must submit the video and online application to pbrmusic.com, with bonus points given for creative submissions. The company also requires that the artists have a social media or an online presence.

“Another good prerequisite is to be a passionate, and somewhat well-rehearsed band,” says the spokesman in the official video released to promote the foundation. We don’t want a group of hacks playing shows just to get some tail.”

The launch of the foundation is part of PBR’s continuing involvement in the music industry. The company also holds its annual Project Pabst Music Festival, which is set to take place in Denver, Portland, Atlanta and Philadelphia this spring and summer with headliners including Duran Duran, Tame Impala, Courtney Barnett, Violent Femmes, Ice Cube, Andrew W.K., and additional artists to be announced.

To learn more about the PBR Foundation, click here.

Will Ferrell and Chad Smith Throw a Quinceanera for Two Great Causes

By Kennedi Johnson

Funnyman Will Ferrell and his uncanny lookalike, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith, cordially invite you to their Red Hot Benefit Comedy + Music Show & Quinceanera! That’s right — two grown men are throwing themselves a Quinceanera. On Friday April 29, Ferrell and Smith will deliver musical and comical entertainment to LA’s Shrine Auditorium.

Aside from Ferrell and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the proposed line-up is guaranteed to please: Devo, Jim Gaffigan, Nick Offerman and many others! Ferrell and Smith first joined forces for a hilarious drum-off competition in May 2014 on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which raised more than half a million dollars for charity.

Surprised by the success of their short gag, Ferrell and Smith searched for new ways to raise money for their charities. “So much goodwill came out of one silly joke,” Smith says. “We’ve been trying to find another way to get together and do some good for our respective causes and I think we have found it.”

The Quince will raise money for two commendable charities. Ferrell’s charity of choice is Cancer for College. Cancer for College was founded in 1994 by Ferrell’s college fraternity brother, Craig Pollard. The charity’s mission is to help cancer patients go to college through the provision of scholarships. As of today, Cancer for College has raised more than $2 million for over 1,000 cancer patients and survivors in the United States.

Smith’s charity of choice is the Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Silverlake Conservatory is the brainchild of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bass player, Flea. Arts funding and education are increasingly dwindling within the public school system. Silverlake Conservatory’s mission is to provide a basic music education for the Los Angeles community’s youth. The charity is able to secure this music education through the provision of extremely affordable or free instruments and music lessons.

Tickets for the Red Hot benefit Comedy + Music & Quinceanera show are available on Funny or Die’s website here. Don’t miss out on the chance to be a part of a star-studded night of entertainment that’s all for a good cause!

Check out Ferrell and Smith’s original drum-off below.