Last week, non-profit organization, Little Kids Rock, hosted its fifth annual Right to Rock benefit to ensure the gift of musical education remains in America’s most economically challenged public schools.

For her continued dedication to music education in the classroom Darlene Love was presented with the Big Man of the Year Award during the Right to Rock Benefi
For her continued dedication to music education in the classroom Darlene Love was presented with the Big Man of the Year Award during the Right to Rock Benefi

The event generated over $850,000 in donations, which will help fund music lessons and instruments for 15,000 additional children in disadvantaged public schools across the United States. Darlene Love, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and star of “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” was honored for her tireless effort to help keep music in the classroom with the organization’s “Big Man of the Year” award.

In addition to the funds raised, Little Kids Rock founder, Dave Wish, announced a $4.5 million initiative to bring music education to 60,000 kids in 600 schools in New York City. Details of this program to be announced.

“At the end of the day, when the musical performances are over and the crowd has left, the children are what remain,” said Wish. “We are dedicated to providing a creative outlet for students, one that allows them to become self-confident, to transform their lives. Music is that outlet.”

The night began with opening remarks from Jake Clemons, whose late uncle, Clarence Clemons, was the inspiration behind the “Big Man of the Year Award.” Love was joined onstage by student musicians from Franklin L. Williams Middle School in Jersey City, N.J as well as friends and fellow musicians Elvis Costello, Bill Medley, Brian Wilson, Paul Shaffer and Steven Van Zandt.

Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International, was also honored for his continued support of the organization. Hard Rock International sponsored the 2012 Right to Rock Benefit, which honored Steve Van Zandt as the “Big Man of the Year.” Van Zandt, an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock and avid supporter of music education through his Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, was the musical director of this year’s production.

And since it’s all about the kids, Little Kids Rock student Ashley Nunez, a fourth-grader at P.S. 98 in Manhattan, took the stage with fellow classmates to perform an original song they wrote about Hurricane Sandy, “She’s Got a Lot Going On.”

“Since joining the program three years ago, Little Kids Rock has been a haven for me,” said Nunez. “Writing and playing music has allowed me to express how I feel, take more risks, and know that it is ok to make mistakes.”

Fellow student musicians from Jersey City performed a mash-up of some of today’s most popular songs by chart toppers like Bruno Mars and Alicia Keys.

With Steven Van Zandt on lead guitar, Brian Wilson kicked off the star-studded musical lineup with “California Girls,” and was joined by the night’s “Big Man” for “God Only Knows” and “Don’t Worry Baby.” Elvis Costello brought the house down with “Not too Young to Get Married.”

Love was in the air when the night’s honoree teamed up with Bill Medley on a rousing duet performance of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” which brought the crowd to its feet to dance and sing along.

The night concluded with an epic performance by Love, who was joined onstage by many of the evening’s performers, including special guest Paul Shaffer, to sing her classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

The evening’s success was due in large part to the dedication and support of advisory board members Maureen Van Zandt and Steven Van Zandt, Little Kids Rock’s dinner committee (the “Right to Rock Roadies”), and the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event such a success. Presenting sponsor, Beats by Dre, as well as lead sponsor, Hard Rock International, also helped to make the benefit possible.

Source: PR Newswire

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