Keb’ Mo’, Ronnie Spector & Non-Profits Put Music Education Front and Center at NAMM 2017

NAMM 2017 drew record numbers to Anaheim Convention Center. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

By Laura Ferreiro

A record number of musicians, non-profits, music technology and equipment brands descended on NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) 2017, making it the largest in the conference’s 115-year history. Held at the Anaheim Convention Center January 19-22, NAMM brought together more than 100,000 attendees to geek out on the latest music gear, network, jam and support good causes.

In addition to upholding its reputation as a musician’s playground, NAMM 2017 also supported vital music education programs in various ways, such as providing funding and instruments for music programs in local schools, and bringing together non-profit partners to promote their work, share best practices and more. This year, a record 57 non-profits, 10 partners and 18 NAMM Foundation grantees attended the first annual series of non-profit roundtable discussions.

Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams chat with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen

What’s more, the NAMM Foundation’s second annual Grand Rally for Music Education took place Saturday, January 21, featuring Keb’ Mo’ and Bernie Williams. Speaking with NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, Keb’ Mo’ talked about the importance of simply showing up and setting a good example for the kids he mentors at the Turnaround Arts School where he teaches.

“What do I do? I show up,” Keb’ Mo told the audience. “When you see someone doing something, it’s profound without you even realizing it.”

He encouraged anyone with a passion for music to take action. “While we’re waiting for politicians to make these music programs, we can do it ourselves in our own towns,” he said. “There’s instruments sitting in the back of pawn shops that you can fill music classes with.”

Meanwhile, renowned musical accessories manufacturer D’Addario & Co. attended NAMM not only to show off their latest guitar strings, but also to promote the D’Addario Foundation, which has worked for 30 years to bring access to quality music education programs to children from all walks of life.

“Our main goal is to support grassroots, community-based programs, and ensure that as many communities as possible have access to music education,” said Suzanne D’Addario Brouder, D’Addario Foundation Director. D’Addario & Co. gives 10 percent of its net profits each year to more than 200 grassroots music programs around the world through the Foundation.

Citing decreased high school drop out rates and higher college attendance rates among students who participate in D’Addario-Foundation-funded programs, Brouder explained, “We’re using music as a catalyst for social change.”

Ronnie Spector performs at NAMM show celebrating 20th anniversary of John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

What’s more, long-time NAMM attendee The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus celebrated its 20th anniversary at the conference this year with an Imagine Party on Saturday night featuring veteran R&B group Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, and a special introduction by Jackson Browne. They also offered tours of the John Lennon Bus, where students have access to state-of-the art recording and production equipment, attend workshops, and are offered the opportunity to produce their own music and videos. To the delight of those aboard the bus that afternoon, Spector was there to teach the kids a few lessons!

Beyonce, Chance the Rapper & Demi Lovato Make List of Most Charitable Stars

Beyonce tops list of most charitable celebrities in 2016

By Kennedi Johnson

Although acts of kindness didn’t always make headlines in 2016, the Celebs Gone Good list reminds us that many artists devoted a large portion of their time to raising funds and awareness for people in need. Online social justice campaign platform, DoSomething.org, ranked celebrities who have used their public platform to affect positive in its annual Celebs Gone Good list.

Several renowned musicians made the list, with Beyonce claiming the top spot for her work on gender equity issues, supporting black women in popular culture, raising money for those affected by the Flint Water Crisis, and for organizing a benefit concert to support the Robin Hood Foundation, a non-profit that fights poverty in New York City.

Hamilton writer, composer, and star Lin-Manuel Miranda ranked second on the list for his participation in the “Love Make the World Go Round” musical tribute for the victims and families of the 2016 Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. Moreover, Miranda has also helped secure funds for Planned Parenthood.

Demi Lovato

Chance the Rapper also made the list for his work urging fans to register to vote, and for donating to the homeless population of Chicago, as did Demi Lovato for using her public platform to talk openly about mental illness and for raising awareness of sexual assault and bullying issues.

Other important causes the celebrities on the Celebs Gone Good list supported include HIV/AIDS awareness, protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, early childhood education programs, increased support of marginalized people, and flood relief efforts in Louisiana.

Here’s a complete list of celebrities who landed on the Celebs Gone Good list:

1. Beyoncé, 2. Lin-Manuel Miranda, 3. Taylor Swift, 4. Demi Lovato, 5. Shailene Woodley, 6. John Cena, 7. Miley Cyrus, 8. Lady Gaga, 9. Zendaya, 10. Jesse Williams, 11. Gina Rodriguez, 12. Chance the Rapper, 13. Tyler Oakley, 14. Serena Williams, 15. Yara Shahidi, 16. Justin Bieber, 17. Shawn Mendes, 18. Misha Collins, 19. Nyle Dimarco, 20. Aziz Anasari.

Click here to read the individual profiles of the celebrities on the list, and click here to learn more about DoSomething.org.

Diplo, OG Maco & More Throw Down at ‘LA Gives Back’ Charity Event for Los Angeles Homeless

Diplo spins tunes at LA Gives Back charity event. Photo: Jennica Mae Photography

by Tamara Syed

A benefit show unlike typical glitzy charity events, LA Gives Back rocked Los Angeles with surprise performances by Diplo and OG Maco on December 21.

Los Angeles-based record label and media company IHEARTCOMIX hosted the benefit, bringing together several top promoters in LA all under one roof, including Brownies & Lemonade, HAM on Everything, Late Night Laggers, Space Yacht, Emo Nite, Free Grilled Cheese, and Restless Nites.

Although the lineup was kept under wraps, the event sold out a few hours before doors opened, with 100% of the proceeds going to three local charities. The show raised more than $50K for Casa Libre, which provides support to displaced immigrants and refugees; My Friend’s Place, which supports the homeless youth population in LA with career services, pet care, healthy food and more; and Showers of Hope, which brings mobile showers to homeless communities.

Despite the pouring rain, attendees waited patiently in a line that wrapped around the entire exterior of Union Nightclub in downtown Los Angeles, which was converted into a six-room dance fest spanning a variety of genres, with each room containing its own microcosm of spectacle and talent.

Diplo surprised the crowd with a late-night set as hundreds of fans rushed the doors and security struggled to contain the determined mob of partiers. Spinning Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful” with Flosstradamus’ “Mosh Pit,” the skilled DJ persuaded even the most reserved wallflowers to join the rocking and swaying of the crowd.

Crowd gets into the charity spirit at LA Gives Back. Photo: Jennica Mae Photography

Meanwhile, the nostalgic throwback sets of Emo Nite DJs echoed to a packed crowd who sang along to nearly every word of pop punk’s past. Upstairs past the foam machine and balloons, the next floor housed the Late Night Laggers crew. Making use of every open space, the event hosted opposing sounds and genres just a few steps away from each other.

Tucked along the wall was a merch table of promotional artwork, with all proceeds going towards Monday Night Mission, an organization dedicated to feeding LA’s homeless population on Skid Row.

The main stage paired Brownies & Lemonade with HAM on Everything and featured electronic and hip-hop acts that shook the room with their booming sounds. Swizzymack mixed Drake songs with heart-pounding electronic beats, leading into a gritty performance by OG Maco and the effortless cool of Father.

Mike Parvizi of Penthouse Penthouse skillfully set the tone with his subdued tracks, each one more surprising than the next. A native Los Angeleno, Parvizi shared his thoughts on the current state of homelessness in his hometown.

“Every night there are over 50,000 displaced citizens in Los Angeles due to misappropriated funds and neglect,” Parvizi told Music for Good. “Anytime that we could come together to create awareness and raise funds – it’s a beautiful thing! It should be [done] year round.”

Amidst the chaos and overwhelming crowds, the pride for Los Angeles was palpable, spanning across age groups and genres of music, ethnicities and personalities, all coming together for a great cause.

Tegan and Sara Launch Foundation to Benefit LGBTQ Community

By Kennedi Johnson

Our country has managed to progress in a number of civil and human rights issues, however, there is still plenty of work to be done in the protection of marginalized citizens. Whether it’s protecting the rights of women, the homeless, indigenous people, immigrants, or people of color, there are numerous organizations working to ensure that all are treated fairly and equally.

Although there are activists and organizers who make it their life’s work to fight injustice and inequality, there are still marginalized groups of people in need. As a result, indie-pop twin sister duo Tegan and Sara have launched a foundation aimed to fight for the rights of LGBTQ girls and women.

The Tegan and Sara Foundation came into existence on Monday December 19, when the Quin sisters made an announcement on their website. They were on tour for their most recent album, Love You to Death, when they were inspired to begin an organization to fight for the economic, health and welfare of LGBTQ girls and women. During the tour, the sisters spent time reading fan letters and talking with them in person, meeting with researchers and nonprofits, and holding discussions with LGBTQ rights activists and legislators.

Their experience with people who were knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues left them with a new understanding of the issues this community faces every day. “We learned that the lack of federal funding for LGBTQ services, limited training for doctors about the needs of their LGBTQ patients, and severe workplace discrimination are disproportionately affecting women,” wrote Tegan and Sara in an open letter to fans.

“Most importantly, we learned that LGBTQ women and girls are feeling overwhelmingly rejected and left behind.” In addition to facing discrimination and inadequate healthcare, they also found that LGBTQ women are more likely to face poverty, while LGBTQ women of color and transgender women are more likely to come up against higher levels of discrimination due to racism and transphobia.

Tegan and Sara felt especially compelled to launch this foundation in the midst of an incoming administration that has promised to repress the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Read the full letter from Tegan and Sara here. Learn more about the Tegan and Sara Foundation here.

GIRLSCHOOL Founder Dishes on Festival with Deap Vally, Chelsea Wolfe & More Benefiting Girls Rock Camp

Deap Vally

By Tamara Syed

Move over boys — GIRLSCHOOL is setting the stage for a music festival packed to the brim with talented women who really rock.

The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles will play host to GIRLSCHOOL’s second annual women-fronted festival January 27-29, with proceeds benefitting the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA.

GIRLSCHOOL is an all-female led collective founded by musician Anna Bulbrook (Airborne Toxic Event/Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros/The Bulls) in response to the underwhelming amount of women in the alternative music industry.

“When the band (Airborne Toxic Event) first took off, I was just happy to be living the dream, if you will — but over 10 years, I became increasingly conscious of being one of very few women on stage in the alternative rock world,” Bulbrook told Music for Good. “It got a bit lonely, to be honest,” .

GIRLSCHOOL founder Anna Bulbrook

“Then two summers ago, I visited Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, an all-female utopia that uses rock’ n’ roll as a foil to create a loving, girl-positive community. I had an experience so profoundly positive that it rewired my brain. I realized what I had been missing all the years I’d spent touring in this very male-dominated space,” she explained. “I like men and all, but it’s like the first time a kid tastes birthday cake — you don’t think about what you’ve been missing until you finally taste it.”

Bulbrook’s inspiration led to the creation of GIRLSCHOOL as an all-women fronted residency at a local club. “It sounds quaint to me today, but at the time, the idea felt a little risky. However, the response was so overwhelmingly positive that I realized that I wasn’t the only person hungry for a community like this to exist,” she said.

As the residency took on more artists, the GIRLSCHOOL collective began to take form and the original members put together its first three-day festival last year. “Now the community has grown to include more and more amazing women from across the music industry who volunteer for GIRLSCHOOL because they care about creating positive change, music, and supporting girls,” Bulbrook said.

This year’s festival features immense talent including Chelsea Wolfe, The Bird and The Bee, Deap Vally and many more female-led bands and artists. “I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s lineup,” Bulbrook said. “I love every single artist for a different reason, and I can’t wait to see everyone deliver onstage.”å

The three-day festival will also feature panel discussions and workshops led by Soundgirls.org, NBC Universal, Noisey and many other leaders paving the way for women in the music industry. “I can’t wait to hear what leaders and thinkers from different vantage points within the music space have to say,” Bulbrook said. “There is power in assembling so many brains — and so many women — in one space.”

Bulbrook and GIRLSCHOOL’s mission is simple: to create a girl-positive community in the world of rock. “I’d like girls who come to GIRLSCHOOL to see a utopia where a diverse community comes together around the revolutionary idea that women can be gifted, too,” she said.

“I’d like girls to see that a happy and respectful community that includes people of all genders can come together to celebrate women’s artistry, listen to women’s voices, and have a really good time at a f–ing great music festival,” she continued.

Proceeds from the festival go towards Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA, a non-profit that sets out to empower girls through music education. It strives to nurture self-esteem and self-expression in girls and foster connections among female musicians.

Tickets to the festival can be purchased here. Also, Lyft will donate $10 to Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls LA for every new user who takes their first ride using the code GIRLSROCK.

Check out highlights from last year’s GIRLSCHOOL Festival.

 

Peter Gabriel, Tom Morello, Johnny Depp & More Team Up for The Voice Project’s Fight for Freedom of Expression

By James Pleasant

In order to draw attention to artists who have been imprisoned for using their voices to speak out, Peter Gabriel, Tom Morello, Johnny Depp and other renowned artists have teamed up for The Voice Project’s “Imprisoned for Art” campaign.

These artists as well as Nadya from punk band Pussy Riot, Ana Tijoux, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros lead singer Alex Ebert, have been photographed in mugshots representing artists from around the world who have been imprisoned for creating art pieces that spoke out against their respective governments. In the photographs, each celebrity holds a mugshot sign that displays the inmate’s city of imprisonment and the length of their sentence.

The Voice Project is selling t-shirts and hoodies featuring these striking images in order to raise awareness for these dissidents who have been robbed because they stood up for their rights. The shirt featuring Morello is a tribute to Tom Dundee, a Thai country and blues singer who was arrested in 2014 for speaking out against the monarchy during a pro-democracy protest. Dundee is not set to be released until April 2027.

“You can’t buy free speech, but you can give it away,” said Tom Morello. “You can also fight like hell for it.”

“Freedom of expression is the foundational right for a free society, and it’s where one has to draw the battle lines when it’s threatened, because when it’s gone, then it’s just a matter of time for all the other human rights – you see this all over the world,” said Hunter Heaney, co-founder and executive director of The Voice Project.

Gabriel’s shirt design is a tribute to Swedish-Eritrean author and journalist Dawit Isaak, who has been imprisoned since September 2001. In 1997, Isaak founded Setit, an independent newspaper in Eritrea, and was arrested after the publication reported a story about a group of opposing politicians urging President Isaias Afwerki to hold free elections in the country. Afwerki, who has held office since the country’s independence from Sweden in 1993, was accused of human rights abuses by the United Nations. Human rights organization Amnesty International reported that Afwerki has at least 10,000 political prisoners.

“When I first started travelling around the world [for the Human Rights Now tour in 1988], I was shocked to discover in how many countries there were artists who were in jail, or who had been tortured or killed for doing exactly the same thing that I do—writing and singing songs,” said Gabriel. “We have to defend and protect those with the courage to speak out.”

Dundee and Isaak are just two of several artists who have been imprisoned for speaking out against political injustice and oppression in a world where freedom of expression should be a foundational human right.

All of the proceeds from sales of the shirts will go towards efforts to advocate for the individuals represented in the photographs. To buy a shirt and learn more about their purpose, click here. To learn more about The Voice Project initiative, click here.

Sofar Sounds Los Angeles Partners with Movember Foundation To Host Benefit Concert

Geographer

By Tamara Syed

If you’re looking for an escape from Thanksgiving food coma or the shopping cart wars of Black Friday, be sure to participate in Sofar Sounds and Movember Foundation’s concert ticket giveaway.

Sofar Sounds Los Angeles is partnering with the Movember Foundation to host a benefit concert on November 29, Giving Tuesday, at the Foundation’s headquarters in Culver City, Calif.

The event will feature performances by soulful rock duo Smoke Season, the sly lyricism of hip-hop powerhouse GAVLYN, and the ethereal strings of indie rockers Geographer. All of the proceeds will go towards funding men’s health programs.

“It’s going to be a special night with the artists, the Sofar audience and the Movember community coming together and supporting a great cause,” Sara Mengesha, project manager for the show, told Music for Good.

“It felt natural to partner up with the Movember Foundation because, like Sofar, it’s a passionate global community connecting and building a movement.”

To be entered for a chance to win tickets to the concert, head over to Sofar Sounds’ event page and make a $5 donation, with all proceeds benefitting Movember Foundation. Be sure to share the event on your social networks to increase your chances of winning.

Since its inception in 2009, Sofar Sounds has hosted more than 4,500 intimate gigs spanning more than 270 cities around the world. From Los Angeles to Kolkata, the secret shows play host to up-and-coming artists as well as renowned guests including Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O and Bastille.

The Movember Foundation provides funding and raises awareness for key areas in men’s health including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It also encourages men to grow their mustaches during the month of November to help spread the word and start conversations around men’s health.

It seems fitting that the show will take place on Giving Tuesday, a worldwide movement to encourage individuals to give to their favorite charities and participate in small acts of kindness to create lasting impact among local communities.

Enter here for the chance at two free tickets to the Sofar Sounds Movember Foundation benefit concert.

Madonna to Hold Star-Studded Benefit Concert with Ariana Grande & Chris Rock for Raising Malawi

By Kennedi Johnson

During challenging times, it’s always good to recognize acts of kindness and humanity. One altruistic event that certainly deserves recognition is Madonna’s star-studded benefit concert, which will be held at the Faena Forum in Miami Beach, Florida on December 2. The proceeds from concert will directly benefit Madonna’s non-profit organization, Raising Malawi.

In addition to a highly anticipated performance from the Queen of Pop herself, there will be additional performances and appearances by pop singer Ariana Grande, award-winning comedian Chris Rock, and Oscar-winning actor and activist Sean Penn. The event will be hosted by actor, singer, and The Late Late Show host James Corden. It will take place during Miami’s grand exhibit of art from around the world, Art Basel. The exhibit is set to include works of modern and contemporary art from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Globally known as the “Warm Heart of Africa,” Malawi is a land-locked, Sub-Saharan African country. Although nearly 50% of Malawi is under the age of 15, there are only four pediatric surgeons serving the entire country. To put that into perspective, there are only four pediatric surgeons available for an estimated 7.5 million children.

Raising Malawi aims to address this by improving healthcare, education, and the living conditions of those who live in poverty. The money raised for Madonna’s non-profit will be used for saving surgeries, treatments for those with HIV/AIDS, educational programs, the ability to enroll orphans in child care, the construction of primary and secondary schools, the provision of academic scholarships, and much more.

In 2017, Raising Malawi will open the country’s first pediatric surgery and intensive care unit, the Mercy James Institute. The institute will be able to help thousands upon thousands of children in need of healthcare.

To purchase tickets for the concert, and in turn help construct a life-changing facility in Malawi, email reservations@raisingmalawievent.com. To learn more about Raising Malawi, click here.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea Unveils Spacious New Home for His Silverlake Conservatory of Music

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers

By Tamara Syed

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea and architect Barbara Bestor unveiled the newly designed space for the Silverlake Conservatory of Music last month.

Eight times larger than its previous home, the music school can now play host to double the amount of students.

Offering lessons in a variety of subjects – from instrumentation to songwriting – and focusing on students as young as four years old to adults – the conservatory was developed to bring a quality music education to the local Los Angeles community.

Michael “Flea” Balzary founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music (SCM) in 2001 after discovering that music programs in Los Angeles schools were being cut due to a lack of funding. The scholarship program at SCM offers free lessons and instruments to deserving students from lower income families.

“Due to Reaganomics and Prop 13m they cut all arts programs out of the L.A. schools,” Flea told KCET. “I was determined to fill that void. In our 15th year of having this music school, about half the kids go for free.”

Rendering of the new Silverlake Conservatory of Music

Formerly a makeup factory, the conservatory’s new home on Hollywood Boulevard includes soundproof lesson rooms, an eye-catching retail store and a “Flea-zzanine” which overlooks a large performance space for its students – a first for SCM. Prior to moving into the building, SCM would have to rent out auditoriums for student recitals and concerts.

Flea strongly believes in the power of a music education. “If we care about kids of all flavors, and all economic backgrounds and all ethnicities being intelligent, educated, sensitive people, we need to support education in the arts,” he said.

Click here for more information about the Silverlake Conservatory of Music.

Third Eye Blind Support the Arts with Clothing Line, Surf with Veterans, and Release New Album

Third Eye Blind

By Kennedi Johnson

What’s an award-winning group of musicians to do when they’re not on stage or in the recording studio? While some might take a moment to relax during their free time, others, such as Third Eye Blind, launch their own clothing line to support a local nonprofit organization.

The famed Bay Area rockers are set to release their new clothing line, Mission District, named for the eclectic San Francisco neighborhood. For each Mission District hoodie sold, $10 will be donated to 826 Valencia, a nonprofit cofounded by renowned author Dave Eggers. The Bay Area organization helps under-resourced students develop their creative and expository writing skills while encouraging their teachers to be a literary support system. The goal is to make writing fun – not taxing – for all children who walk through their doors. What’s more, these donations will be matched by the Mark and Alison Pincus Foundation.

In addition to fostering a passion for the literary arts in San Francisco’s children, lead singer Stephan Jenkins recently spent time teaching veterans how to surf at Camp Pendleton. The Third Eye Blind leading man’s surfing lessons were a part of the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation’s ocean therapy sessions. Ocean therapy requires participants to discuss their trauma and recovery experiences and then relate them back to the ocean, followed by a 90-minute surfing session. The Foundation provides therapy and support for the Marines of the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, veterans from the West LA Veterans Hospital, foster children, and at-risk youth.

“Surfing is foundational to my life,” says Jenkins. “Still it doesn’t feel complete until I share it with others. Sharing it with service members who have carried their trauma home and seeing what it does for them completes it for me.”

Meanwhile, Third Eye Blind recently released their sixth studio album, We Are Drugs, recorded last summer at the Sonic Ranch recording studio in Texas.

Listen to the We Are Drugs opener, “Company of Strangers.”

Learn more about 826 Valencia here. Find out more about the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation here.