Bebe Rexha, Luis Fonsi and More Launch Grammy Music Education Coalition All-Star Ambassador Program

Sasha Samsonova
Bebe Rexha

Best new artist Grammy Award nominee Bebe Rexha is set to launch the Grammy Music Education Coalition’s (GMEC) national campaign on behalf of its new All-Star Ambassador program. The campaign will get underway this spring.

Additional members of the All-Star Ambassador program include pop/R&B artist Rita Ora, Broadway veteran Kristin Chenoweth, Grammy winner Stephen Marley, Latin star Luis Fonsi, country newcomer Caroline Jones, classical pianist Lang Lang, Guns N’ Roses’ Matt Sorum, saxophonist Mindi Abair, songwriter Regina Spektor and Philadelphia rock band War on Drugs. Selected for their personal connections to music education, the diverse group of creatives will be working to spread awareness and raise funds for music education.

In a release announcing the Ambassador program, GMEC executive director Lee Whitmore said, “The Grammy Music Education Coalition is thrilled to be celebrating universal music education participation by American elementary, middle and high school students. Today, we join with our GMEC member and partner, the Grammy Museum Foundation, to inspire a future vision for careers and the arts for young people from around the Los Angeles area.”

Whitmore also announced that the GMEC has launched intensive music programs in Philadelphia and Nashville. Focusing on funding and services for both cities’ public school systems, the goal for this inaugural school year is to invest $1 million in each district while overseeing and coordinating the programs established by the Coalition’s partners. For instance, the Philadelphia slate includes a commercial music curriculum developed with DASH, Live Nation and Recording Academy members along with a program coordinator. The Nashville investment will feature an elementary music coach, a program coordinator and professional development through spring/summer music and audio technology events for all teachers.

“Our commitments in these first two school systems for the next three years are focused and will have a lasting impact,” added Whitmore. “The Coalition and community investment goals for the school systems are $5 million each.” Rounding out its series of announcements, the GMEC revealed members of its Founders Circle, board and executive advisory council  (grammymusiced.org).

Rounding out the series of GMECGreenlit in 2017, the GMEC is a partnership of 40 major progressive music education and philanthropic organizations, including the Grammy Museum, The Recording Academy, the NAMM Foundation (National Association of Music Merchants), VH1 Save the Music Foundation and NAfME (National Association for Music Education). Rounding out 

Earlier this week, the GMEC helped kick off Grammy Week in tandem with the Grammy Museum with A Celebration of Women and Music. Sponsored by HARMAN, the afternoon program was comprised of two hour-long panel sessions targeting Los Angeles-area high school and college students who are considering careers in the music industry. 

The first session, moderated by Recording Academy vice chair Ruby Marchand, featured eight women representing various industry sectors. The panel included Friends at Work partner/artist manager Adina Friedman, Fearless Records president/CEO Jenny Reader, Fox Rothschild LLP partner/entertainment attorney Monika Tashman and Fasbender & Associates president Tina Fasbender. The discussion ranged from the life-changing moments the panelists experienced that prompted their career choices to the important role that networking and mentors played in their journeys. All concurred that passion was and remains a key factor in their work lives. “Passion for music,” noted Reader, “drives everything.”

Moderated by Anna Bulbrook, founder of the female empowerment collective GIRLSCHOOL, the second session talked about creating a collaborative community to mentor young female artists. Sharing their perspectives were six panelists that included songwriter Linda Perry (also a Grammy nominee this year for non-classical producer of the year), as well as artists Macy Gray, Angel Haze and Willa Amai.

As founder of label/publishing firm We Are Hear, Perry spoke about the need for the industry to change its focus from following numbers back to fostering talent. To hearty applause inside the museum’s Clive Davis Theater, Perry noted, “Quality is going down; it’s really low on the bar. We need to raise that shit up.”  Haze, Gray and the others also stressed to the students the importance of writing strong songs and respecting the opportunities that come their way. The session closed with 14-year-old Amai, a We Are Hear mentee, performing three of her compositions including “Trampled Flowers.”