The intimate night featured performances by world-class musicians supporting music education for schools and communities.
LOS ANGELES, CA — “Music is the one thing that is truly universally moving and that can break down so many barriers,” Suzanne D’Addario Brouder said.
“In terms of education, unlike any other form, it has a trifecta of impacts,” she continued. “Cognitive, social/emotional and communal. It truly is one of the most effective ways to reach students and get them engaged in school.”
During this month’s Back 2 School Benefit Show on November 2nd (the first show presented by the D’Addario Foundation, a non-profit organization which aims to support over 200 non-profit programs aiming to bring music back to children’s education all over the US), Brouder explained the significance and mission of the night to raise awareness about children’s education and music.
The overarching theme of the night, as it seemed, was how music played such a pivotal impact in each of the artists’ lives — a star-studded lineup led by The Watkins Family Hour & producer Mike Viola, with guests Mandy Moore, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), John C. Reilly, LP, Langhorne Slim, Garfunkel & Oates, Blake Mills and Mike Garza, each performing a song of their own.
“In California, we currently have the largest number of programs, so we thought it would be appropriate to showcase our efforts there,” Brouder continued.
With a fitting “back-to-school” theme, many songs of the night placed an emphasis on youth and education. The Watkins Family performed beautiful acoustic-folk renditions of the Saved By The Bell theme and Jack White’s “I Can Tell That We Are Going To Be Friends,” with Sara Watkins’ beautiful vocals and violin.
As the artists exuded a sense of pure joy and love for music on behalf of supporting a great cause, Brouder wrote to me:
“These artists are very busy people and the fact that they are taking the time out of their schedules to do this show speaks to their belief in the cause and the work we are doing at the D’Addario Foundation.”
Highlights included Langhorne Slim, who presented a funny yet honest dialogue on how much he hated school as a kid, yet found his way as a singer-songwriter as he sang a song he wrote specifically about education for the show. Actor John C. Reilly entered the stage with pure joy and finesse as he sang a funky rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” featuring his own spoon-tapping to the rhythm. LP lifted everyone’s spirits and performed a heavy-rock version of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.”
Garfunkel & Oates were an absolute comedic and musical joy, as they performed the “sex education” portion of the night with an incredibly funny and sexually explicit performance about sex that had me laughing and yearning for more.
Actress and singer-songwriter Mandy Moore (This Is Us, A Walk To Remember) came onstage with pure class and humility, as the respectful crowd listened act after act. Moore, who is currently in the studio writing for her new record come 2020, introduced herself with an anecdote from her childhood:
“I’m in the midst of making a record right now and when you’re writing, you’re sort of in reflection mode and I found myself taking inventory of my 35 years, and specifically about being a young person and starting out in this industry at 15. This particular song sort of is about that.
I just realized that no one in my family is artistic. No one’s an artist, no one sings, no one acts, no one paints even, but had it not been for the opportunity that I had in school — my introduction to music — there’s no way I would be up here today. So I felt like it was pretty fitting to play this song, as a young Mandy, in the early days, ’cause she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her school.”
The night ended with an upbeat rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” performed by all of the acts who had come up prior.
When asked what she hoped people would leave with after the night, Brouder wrote, “I hope people leave with an enthusiasm for the cause and a desire to want to be a part of the solution. Anyone (you don’t need to be a musician) can get involved in supporting efforts to bring more music into the lives of kids. Simply broadcasting (via social media) your support of organizations like the D’Addario Foundation and the amazing programs in your local communities is an effective way to bring attention to those working quietly to better the lives of the children they serve through music.”
“We are at a critical time when younger generations are less connected than ever to meaningful things. Music, I believe unlike anything else, has the ability to affect positive universal change.”
As the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instrument accessories, D’Addario uses up to 10% of their net earnings each year to fund these programs. This night, 100% of the ticket sales and donations went straight to the D’Addario Foundation.
To read my exclusive interview with the D’Addario Foundation’s director, click here.
To stay up to date with The D’Addario Foundation, visit daddariofoundation.org.
This article is featured on Blurred Culture.