Rock and roll royalty filled the majestic Capitale Wednesday night as the national nonprofit, Little Kids Rock, hosted its eighth annual benefit in Lower Manhattan to support public school students and music teachers with donated instruments, curricular resources, and training.

The sold-out event featured performances from musical greats led by Musical Director Will Lee and generated over one million dollars in donations.

“Music changes kids and kids change the world,” shared David Wish, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Little Kids Rock. Those sentiments were echoed by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins who received the organization’s Humanitarian Award. Loggins spoke about being able to express himself through music as a teen when words failed and how he has watched the same in his daughter. “Music speaks to the heart,” Loggins said. " It taught her who she is, and it taught me who I am." Little Kids Rock students joined Loggins onstage and brought the crowd to their feet with a rendition of Mitch Ryder’s “Devil With a Blue Dress” which segued into Loggins’ toe-tapping hit “Footloose.”

Loggins then joined the legendary Sam Moore in a fantastic duet of “I Thank You” after Moore drove the crowd wild with “Soul Man.” High School senior Ian Ackerman joined Moore on lead guitar for the performance. “I can’t believe I just got to play with him,” Ian said. “That man is an icon. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on stage with someone I have so much respect for.”

Speaking of respect, 30 Rock star, Tracy Morgan was brought to tears when 12-year-old Little Kids Rock student Denaijah Pimentel performed an impromptu duet of “My Girl” with the one and only Smokey Robinson. Morgan shared his admiration for Smokey as he presented him with the “Rocker of the Year” award. In accepting the award, Robinson shared how important music education is. “I am an advocate for the arts in our schools,” Robinson said. “Putting arts back into the schools where they have been eliminated from is something we all should be part of because music is the international language.”

Following his remarks, Robinson performed some of his most beloved hits including “I Second That Emotion.” And backed by Little Kids Rock students, he brought the crowd to a roar with the grand finale performance of “Get Ready,” the last chart-topper he wrote for the Temptations.

The event’s performances and festivities highlighted an astounding milestone Little Kids Rock had achieved this year: enriching the lives of more than 500,000 inner-city public school students through bringing them free instrumental music lessons rooted in the popular music that they know and love. Little Kids Rock provides music teachers with the training, curricula, instruments, and continuing support they need to teach their kids to be life-long music makers. Coinciding with the celebration, the event’s title sponsor, The Hot Topic Foundation, challenged Little Kids Rock supporters to help reach the next half million music makers through the Half A Million Music Makers campaign. All donations received by Little Kids Rock through 12/31/2016 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by The Hot Topic Foundation, up to $500,000!

For more information about the title sponsor, The Hot Topic Foundation, click here.

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