On December 6, Education Through Music-Los Angeles honored Paramount Pictures’ President of Worldwide Music & Publishing, Randy Spendlove, and Music Teacher (Los Angeles Unified School District) Asuncion Ojeda at the Skirball Cultural Center.

ETM-LA 2015 Shining Star Honoree, Randy Spendlove, and Grammy nominee, Common, pose with ETM-LA students
ETM-LA 2015 Shining Star Honoree, Randy Spendlove, and Grammy nominee, Common, pose with ETM-LA students

Each year, the Shining Stars are awarded to individuals whose contributions through music have changed lives. “Through music, our honorees inspire our youth to achieve their highest potential,” says ETM-LA Executive Director, Victoria Lanier.

The evening, hosted by Will and Grace star Eric McCormack included performances by Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik, En Vogue, Michelle Branch, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Randy Spendlove’s “Jam Band” which included Jimmie Wood and Joe Kramer, and Composers John Debney and Brian Tyler. Common, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Paramount Pictures’ Selma, was on hand to present Spendlove’s Shining Star Award. He discussed how important music education was for him, and praised Spendlove for his dedication to the cause.

Common was also honored that night as more than 50 students from Education Through Music-LA Partner Schools performed the Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning song “Glory” from Selma. “It was such an honor to have the children perform ‘Glory,’ along with Bob Marley’s ‘One Love,’” said Common, who gave them a standing ovation.

During his speech, Spendlove gave personal anecdotes about his musical education experience: “Teachers would let me take instruments home on the weekends, and my theater teacher would give me keys to the school to practice on the weekends. When I reconnected with these teachers years later, they didn’t remember this, because teachers inspire and just want students to get the most out of their music education.”

Veteran music teacher Asuncion Ojeda also gave a speech about how rewarding it is for her to watch her students grow through music.

ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier gave an inspiring speech stating that last year’s ETM-LA serviced over 7,000 students in Los Angeles. Proceeds from the event will benefit ETM-LA’s programs serving over 10,000 children this year, including LA Unified School District’s Normandie Elementary, where Honoree Asuncion Ojeda currently teaches only a handful of the approximate 900 students due to the lack of resources. “We want to ensure that every child at Normandie Elementary receives an equitable music education as part of the core curriculum,” says Lanier. ETM-LA believes every child deserves a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts.

Others in attendance included Jeff Beal, Christophe Beck, Jim Dooley, Tim Davies, Rob Duncan, Ludwig Goransson, Joe Kraemer, Christopher Lennertz, Bear McCreary, Stephan Moccio, Blake Neely, Rob Simonsen, Dan Romer, Rudy Sarzo, and Austin Wintory. The event chairs were Lola Debney and Alecia Spendlove.

Honorary chairs included music education champions and celebrities such as Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, Common, Imagine Dragons, Kate Flannery, John Debney, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Michael Giacchino, Rickey Minor, and Common. Major event sponsors: Booker & Sarita White, BTW Productions, CW3PR, The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, Hans Zimmer & Steven Kofsky, Lola & John Debney, Paramount Pictures and Sonic Fuel Studios. Tribute Video Sponsorship: CW3PR.

Education Through Music-LA is an independent 501c3 non-profit with the mission to provide music in disadvantaged schools to enhance students’ academic achievement and creative and overall development. ETM-LA partners with inner-city schools to provide yearlong music instruction and is based on the ETM model (New York, 1991). Find out more here.

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