THE MUSIC RISING STORY
Music Rising is a campaign that was launched to rescue the musical culture of the Central Gulf region of the United States from the destruction caused by the catastrophic hurricanes of the summer of 2005 by replacing the musical instruments lost or destroyed in the deluge. It was created in November of 2005 by The Edge, Bob Ezrin and Henry Juszkiewicz with inaugural partners Gibson Musical Instruments, Guitar Center Music Foundation, MusiCares and Musician’s Friend. Through these partners’ generous contributions of money and time – along with the contributions of many other wonderful individuals and organizations – Music Rising was able to provide replacement instruments to 2,700 professional musicians from the Central Gulf region, many of whom had been displaced to over 34 states. That was Phase One.
On September 25th, 2006, Music Rising heralded the commencement of Phase Two with an historical performance by U2 and Green Day at the New Orleans Superdome, saluting Music Rising, the people of New Orleans and the New Orleans Saints who were returning to their home building for the first time since the devastation. Phase Two is dedicated to helping churches and schools who were affected by the hurricanes to rebuild their music programs by replacing the instruments that they lost in the devastation. Phase Two is being administered by The Gibson Foundation and enjoys the continuing support of The Guitar Center Foundation, Musican’s Friend, and now includes new partners The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, All Congregations Together and The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
When Music Rising first launched in November 2005, Gibson Guitar pledged one million dollars to be raised by the sale of a limited edition Music Rising Gibson Les Paul guitar available to the public through partner Guitar Center at its many locations across the country. One year later, Gibson offered a limited edition Music Rising Epiphone guitar with all proceeds going directly to helping Music Rising raise another million dollars. These Music Rising Epiphone guitars are still being sold through Musician’s Friend and feature the official Music Rising logo worn on a T-Shirt by The Edge at U2’s last Grammy performance. Details are at www.epiphone.com or www.musiciansfriend.com.
Music Rising is proud to have been the recipient of the 2005 Gold Halo Award for Cause Marketing. The campaign was honored at a special celebration in New York in June and was once again honored in November 2006 when it received the prestigious Billboard Humanitarian Award.
Many other partners throughout our first year and a half have worked very hard to raise awareness for our initiative. We celebrated the success of a Ticketmaster worldwide ticket auction where the four major US promoters came together as one for the cause. President Bill Clinton has supported Music Rising both personally and via his efforts with the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. He is a true partner. We remain thankful to these and all of our other partners who have worked so hard to help support our cause. They know who they are and we are forever indebted to them for their kindness.
In April 2006, we officially re-opened the historic Preservation Jazz Hall in New Orleans. This landmark survived Katrina but lost all of its instruments, which were eventually replaced by Music Rising. In celebration of the re-opening, The Edge joined founders Bob Ezrin and Gibson Guitar Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz at the official event. The Edge later made a surprise appearance at the New Orleans JazzFest. Music Rising raised the spirits of all who attended on that special day. We were also able to replace the precious Baldwin Piano that Fats Domino lost when his house was destroyed during the hurricane. We even adopted a new slogan for the initiative: “Rebuilding the Gulf Region Note by Note,” and many of us joined The Edge in walking the 9th Ward to see firsthand how much more work needed to be done and how much more help the people of that area could use.
Since starting Phase Two, we have already helped restore musical instruments to tens of thousands of parishioners and students in the region. But our work is far from finished. We are now initiating Phase Three of Music Rising, dedicated to supporting Community Musical and Cultural Organizations and Events. This year, Music Rising played a large part in ensuring that the expenses were covered for the Mardi Gras Indians allowing them to afford to march. We intend to support similar groups who protect and promote the musical heritage of the Gulf Coast.
On April 21st, 2007 at New York’s famous Hard Rock Café, Music Rising hosted the Icons of Music event, a magnificent worldwide auction featuring an unprecedented collection of some of the world’s most sought after instruments and music memorabilia, raising over $2.4m for our initiative. Last year, on May 31st, 2008 at the Hard Rock Café, we held our second auction, which again took place at the Hard Rock Café. This time, there were so many items up for sale that we had to break the auction into 3 separate sessions, and the entire event lasted from 10 a.m. that day until 1:30 a.m. the next morning. It was a long but exhilarating day, and we sold well over $2m worth of stuff! Now we plan to use these funds to support Phase Three.
In closing, we wish to say that creating and building Music Rising has been a profound honor and one of the greatest experiences of our lives, and we have never ceased to be astounded by the creativity, resilience and strength of the citizens of that beleaguered region and the generosity, commitment and good will of our many supporters in this effort. We remain dedicated to our mission of helping the music rise again on the Central Gulf Coast.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Music Rising Team.