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 Katrina and Rita in 2005 by replacing the musical instruments lost or destroyed in the deluge. Co-Founded by U2’s the Edge and legendary producer Bob Ezrin along with a host of music industry partners including MusiCares, Musician’s Friend, Gibson Musical Cinstruments and Guitar Center Music Foundation, the organization has gone to aid thousands of musicians, students and choir members. Since 2005, Music Rising has launched four phases of their campaign. Phase I consisted of the immediate need to give musicians who lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the funds to establish their livelihood again. Music Rising is proud to have been able to assist over 3,000 musicians in gaining back their livelihood, providing the funds needed to purchase instruments and equipment after theirs were destroyed. 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.  

On September 25th, 2006, Music Rising heralded the commencement of Phase II 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 II was 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 was administered by the Gibson Foundation and enjoyed the continued support of The Guitar Center Foundation, Musican’s Friend, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, All Congregations Together and The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. During Phase II, Music Rising provided tens of thousands of students with instruments for music education and choir members with the instruments they needed to partake in their own faith oriented musical congregations. During Phase II, Music Rising was also dedicated to supporting Community Musical and Cultural Organizations and Events. We played a large part in ensuring that the expenses were covered for the Mardi Gras Indians allowing them to afford to march.

Music Rising then launched Phase III by awarding a major grant towards The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University (NOCGS). The NOCGS explores the region’s intersections with Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean through research, community engagement and a new curriculum. Often ignored in larger US histories, New Orleans and the larger Gulf South, figure uniquely within colonial, regional, national, and global narratives. The Center is home to a brand-new major, the Musical Cultures of the Gulf South, and we are building a field of study focused on the region’s music and culture. The grant provided by Music Rising was awarded to develop educational resources to be able to communicate the sustaining organic factors of Gulf South music and culture. The NOCGS also co-sponsors the Trombone Shorty Academy (TSA), a program for teaching musical fundamentals and cultural traditions to young musicians from underserved New Orleans high schools.

Phase IV marked Music Rising’s commitment to other areas across the country where musical communities were affected by natural disasters. Music Rising provided $250,000 in aid to musicians and students that were greatly affected by the floods in Nashville, Tennessee in 2010. Later in 2012, Music Rising supported students and music education by reaching out schools which were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Known as Superstorm Sandy, the damage was assessed at over $68 billion, a total only surpassed by Hurricane Katrina. Music Rising was there in the aftermath providing aid for music education and students.

Music Rising is proud to have been the recipient of the 2005 Gold Halo Award for Cause Marketing, the 2006 Billboard Humanitarian Award and the 2008 PRISM Award.

Other milestones included 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. An Icons of Music Auction event hosted by Julien’s Auctions raised over $2.4 million for Music Rising in 2007 and in 2008 our second two-day auction raised over $2 million for the cause. This year the Jas Hennessey & Co, provided a donation of $185,000 to continue our work. We are most grateful to all of our partners for their continued support as well as the musicians who have been with us since the beginning. The process for applying for assistance is to email DeAnna Sanchez at Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation at deanna@mhopus.org or to call directly at 818-762-4328.

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 any of the beleaguered regions and the generosity, commitment and good will of our many supporters in this effort. We remain dedicated to our mission of helping music always rise after disaster.

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