Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix joins a Little Kids Rock a cappella group

Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix joins a Little Kids Rock a cappella group


Steve Miller, Graham Nash and Paul Shaffer Share How Music Changes Lives at Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit

Additional Appearances by David Letterman, Darlene Love, Jake Clemons, Marty Balin, Marc Cohn, and Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix

New York – October 21, 2015 - Little Kids Rock, a national non-profit organization, held its seventh annual benefit concert, hosted by Maureen Van Zandt, at the Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom. The event generated over one million dollars in donations to help support students and music teachers in public schools with donated instruments, curricular resources and training. Little Kids Rock also honored recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee, Steve Miller, as “Rocker of the Year” for the influence his career and music has had on the industry and students in the organization’s music program. Graham Nash of the famed trio Crosby, Stills and Nash received the Humanitarian Award. Paul Shaffer was presented with the Big Man of the Year award by David Letterman, Darlene Love and Jake Clemons as part of the star-studded night.

“For over a decade, Little Kids Rock has been dedicated to serving the music needs and dreams of more than 400,000 students to date,” said David Wish, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Little Kids Rock. “Without the help of people, such as those who filled the room last night, our vision of building a world, through music, where kids can live rich purposeful lives would not be possible.”

After a warm welcome from Q104.3’s Jim Kerr, the evening began with an outstanding a capella performance by Kirstin Maldonado of Pentatonix and Sharkapella, a student a capella group from Jersey City. From an interactive audience music-making session led by Wish, to spectacular performances by the children, the benefit event truly exemplified the purpose and mission of Little Kids Rock.

Steve Miller was presented with the “Rocker of the Year” award by Marty Balin, co-Founder of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship and solo star, before being joined by local students for “Fly Like An Eagle.”

The night rocked on with Graham Nash, legendary two-time inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (The Hollies and Crosby Stills Nash). And the title of the song is “Teach Your Children.” receiving the organization’s Humanitarian Award from friend and fellow songwriter Marc Cohn. Three student vocalists accompanied Nash for a fitting rendition of “Teach Your Children.”

It wouldn’t be a Little Kids Rock benefit without an unannounced guest appearance, and this year’s special secret was David Letterman. Paul Shaffer, solo artist and musical director for Late Night with David Letterman, accepted the “Big Man of the Year” award from Darlene Love and subsequently said he wished his former boss was there to witness the honor.  Letterman obliged with a surprise onstage appearance, presenting Shaffer with a miniature harmonica from his childhood, and told a story or two about how music really does change lives, including his own son’s.

The “Big Man of the Year” award honors an artist or philanthropist whose contributions have helped build a world where kids can live rich and purposeful lives – an award founded on the principals exemplified by the late supporter of the organization, “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons. Upon receiving the award, Shaffer performed “Hollywood Swinging” with a rousing guitar solo by a Little Kids Rock student from New York City and a sax solo by Jake Clemons. Finally, students and two auction winners joined them on stage for the grand finale performance of “River Deep, Mountain High.”

Access this link to view and download photos from the event. For more information about our title sponsor, The Hot Topic Foundation, please visit


About Little Kids Rock
Little Kids Rock is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to unlocking children’s inner music makers by revitalizing music education in public schools. The organization partners with school districts to train public school teachers to run its innovative Modern Band curriculum and donates all of the accompanying instruments and resources necessary to teach popular music in a way that empowers students to experience instant achievement. Little Kids Rock started as a schoolteacher’s vision to give his students access to music education while diminishing budgets for the arts made that more and more difficult to do. What began as a single after-school guitar class has since exploded into a national movement that is bringing free, weekly music lessons to nearly 200,000 public school children due to the efforts of more than 1,500 teachers in 29 cities nationwide. To date, Little Kids Rock has served over 400,000 students.

David Letterman presents Paul Shaffer with the Big Man of the Year Award

David Letterman presents Paul Shaffer with the Big Man of the Year Award