Music Unites celebrated its one year anniversary this week with a blowout bash overlooking the Manhattan skyline at the Cooper Square Hotel Penthouse. Supporters of this important cause, including Tinsley Mortimer, The Postelles, Richie Rich, and model/actor Eric West toasted to Music Unites' commitment to bring music education into underfunded inner city school districts. Guests sipped on Double Cross cocktails and AriZona Beverages, while enjoying Cupcake Stop's deserts designed especially for the special occasion.
This sense of closeness amongst guests was buoyed by the high energy vibe of the night, propelled forward by seven performers who took the stage including Jaicko, Matt White, NIIA, Tamarama, Maino, Rachel Platten and As Tall As Lions with DJ sets in between by DJ DL.
"This is a big milestone for us since we've come so far in just a year," said Michelle Edgar, founder and executive director of Music Unites. "The evening showcased what Music Unites stands for -- the bringing together of artists from all walks of life coming together to get behind a cause that's close to all their roots. Music Unites is all encompassing bringing together artists across all genres of music and connecting people through music, allowing them to experience it in a different way and breaking down all the traditional barriers across different types of music."
Singer and songwriter Matt White, who has a new album coming out this fall, opened the show with his hit song Love and got everyone in the spirit of the evening by singing Happy Birthday to the charity. "I've always felt that music education is important and am very excited to be able to work with Music Unites to help kids in underfunded inner city schools," he said of his support.
Tamarama, who played their feel good Australian surf rock, was the first band to ever work with Music Unites, playing the first benefit concert and continuing to show their support throughout the year. "We're a big supporter of music and love what Michelle is doing," said lead singer Jay Lyon, who sported his surf look in QuikSilver gear. "The government cuts so much spending on music and it's awful because it's a universal language. Music is everything for us so it's great to be involved in a charity that raises awareness for underprivileged schools."
Up-and-coming Capitol Records artist Jaicko, just 18, got the crowd grooving with his hit song "Oh Yeah" and has been working with Music Unites as a mentor to students in Harlem and those involved in the Music Unites Youth Choir. Of going into the schools, he says, "It was amazing. I always like to relate to people my age and it's good to talk to them. My mom and my dad instilled in me that education is important and I try and spread a positive message and share my knowledge that school is important."
NIIA, who took time off from working on her album due out in just a few months, impressed the crowd with her sultry, jazzy pop songs. After meeting Michelle and learning about the organization, she knew she wanted to get involved. "I met Michelle a few months ago and she started telling me about what the organization is doing and it sounded amazing. I really believe in giving back and music translates so much to all types of people. I'm doing what I love and I support everyone else who does."
New York-based singer songwriter Rachel Platten reinvigorated the crowd with her infectiously happy, feel-good folk pop. As a spokesperson for the Music Unites Women's Empowerment issue, she has and will continue to serve as an inspiration for girls in underfunded inner city schools. "I think that what Music Unites is doing with bringing music back in schools is so important. I remember it's what sparked my career and I remember feeling so free and happy getting to go into a music room in elementary school," she said. "It was such an amazing feeling for me. I can't even imagine not having that access."
Rap artist Maino added to the eclectic mix of genres that played over the evening. His flows from his new album Bring It Back DJ were a hit with guests and got the crowd bumping their heads.
Last up were indie rockers As Tall As Lions, whose lead singer Dan Nigro wowed the crowd with several melodic acoustic songs. "It's a good cause. Being in a band is a very selfish thing because you kind of do it for yourself in the first place, so when you get an opportunity to come and give back and make it for a greater cause it makes more sense and we wanted to make sure we were a part of it," he said.
Guitarist Saen explains the band's support and hit on the philosophy of the organization perfectly, saying, "We feel that music education is important and it's underappreciated especially for little kids, but it does really unite the community and it's usually the first thing that goes when budgets get cut. It's really sad because it worked out for a lot of people before and in the music world a lot of people got their start just through music education in public schooling. If that doesn't exist anymore that's not only depriving a whole generation of kids, but a whole generation of music listeners."
By Mara Siegler
Follow Michelle Edgar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Music_Unites