The Edge Reflects on Charity’s Decade of Growth Into Disaster Relief Organization for Musical Communities Nationwide
10 years ago Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, leaving behind a trail of destruction that The Edge of U2 would soon witness firsthand during a visit to New Orleans’ hard hit 9th Ward. Moved by the devastation suffered by the local musical community, Edge teamed with legendary producer Bob Ezrin, Gibson Guitars, MusiCares and the Guitar Center Foundation to provide immediate aid to the musicians whose lives and livelihoods had sustained the most damage when the levees broke. In short order, efforts including donations of net proceeds from the sales of Gibson and Epiphone Music Rising special edition guitars and the providing of musical instruments to professionals whose gear was destroyed in the storm were implemented. In a PSA at the time, Edge explained the helplessness he would have felt in the face of such overwhelming loss as Music Rising replaced thousands of instruments in what would ultimately be the first phase of its still ongoing and continually expanding mission.
Reflecting on the 10-year journey of Music Rising, The Edge commented: Music is at the core of these communities. It’s an essential part of their identities, their hearts and their lives. So when these centers of musical culture are damaged, getting the music going again is a crucial part of the healing process.
With Music Rising, we and our partners continue to do everything in our power to help support this centuries old music culture so it can do its magic for many generations to come.
What started as a direct response to one of the worst disasters to affect a musical capital of the U.S. has grown over a decade to offer assistance to musicians far and wide. Where there is music, there is hope, and Music Rising will continue to do everything possible to restore both for another 10 years and beyond.
In the decade following the initial 2005 Katrina aftermath, Music Rising’s efforts have grown in scope. Additional programs in the Gulf Coast region have included the distribution of over $5 million worth of instruments for some 30 schools (in conjunction with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation), as well as becoming the largest purchaser of Hammond organs in order to replace those destroyed by Katrina in regional houses of worship, and contributed $1 million to develop the Music Rising curriculum at Tulane University. Music Rising’s national outreach broadened as the organization provided aid to creative communities impacted by the 2010 Tennessee floods, as well as relief along with MusiCares and the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Music Rising’s nationwide efforts are not limited to aid in the aftermath of natural disasters—its outreach continues in the very fortunate lull between these cataclysms: The organization recently reached out to Detroit, with efforts to aid the Motor City’s singular musical heritage including the distribution or hundreds of musical instruments to students. Elsewhere, Music Rising’s Music Icons auctions hosted by the world renowned Julien’s Auctions have raised millions in bids for items donated by Edge, U2 and friends. With support from friends and family including the Hard Rock International Corporation, Aaron Neville, Trombone Shorty and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day—who teamed with U2 for the historic 2006 performance that reopened the Superdome and welcomed the New Orleans Saints home—Edge, Ezrin and Music Rising’s efforts on behalf of musical communities in need promise to be just as tireless and far reaching for decades to come.