Menlo Park, CA — Little Kids Rock’s second annual “Rockin’ The Bay Benefit,” hosted at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, furthured the organization’s mission to deliver the gift of music education to some of the most economically challenged public schools nationwide. The fundraiser generated more than $225,000 to help fund music programs and instruments for thousands of additional students in local Bay Area public schools.
The benefit honored Metallica frontman James Hetfield with the organization’s inaugural “Livin’ The Dream Award,” which was created in memory of Facebook executive chef Josef Desimone, a musician, philanthropist and big supporter of Little Kids Rock.
“I’m a firm believer in creative expression through music. It is important to have it available from a young age, which is why I support Little Kids Rock’s mission to make music education accessible to children,” said Hetfield. “I’ve seen how music changes people’s lives for the better and I am honored to have a part in helping the organization enrich young lives through the lifelong gift of music education.”
Special guests and performers included Chris Isaak, Jeff Campitelli, Marcus Henderson, Moonalice, Coverflow and talented student musicians from Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco and Highland Elementary School in Richmond.
“This year’s benefit was especially poignant as we honored the memory of our dear friend Josef Desimone,” said David Wish, Little Kids Rock founder and executive director. “Being able to honor men like Josef and James Hetfield and give our generous donors the opportunity to witness the transformational impact music education has on children is what these events are all about.”
Chris Donohoe, chairman of Little Kids Rock’s Bay Area fundraising council, presented the first award of the night to the chefs of Facebook, who worked closely with Desimone and proudly created and served the evening’s meal in his honor. David Wish touched on the Little Kids Rock mission and focused in on how Desimone was an example of how one can make a difference in children’s lives through music. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Wish addressed Desimone’s family and shared that the last song Desimone shared with his mother was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Student musicians then performed a beautiful acoustic version of the song on ukulele.
The music-filled night continued with Hetfield, who was joined on stage by several students from Highland Elementary after accepting the “Livin The Dream Award” from another Little Kids Rock supporter and owner of Bananas At Large music store, Alan Rosen. Hefield and the students performed “La Bamba” and then traded riffs on a student original called “Little Kids Rock Blues.” With James on the guitar and vocals, the ensemble was joined by guitarist Marcus Henderson (of the video game Guitar Hero), drummer Campitelli (who tours with Joe Satriani) and Coverflow bassist Tim Chang (also a national board member of Little Kids Rock) for a star-studded performance of “Enter Sandman.”
A rousing performance by Moonalice followed by student musicians from Visitacion Valley Middle School who performed two of their favorite songs, Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts” kept the crowd on their feet. The night wrapped up with Highland Elementary student musicians performing “I Want” and “The Middle” and guests dancing to Bay Area band Coverflow.
The evening’s fundraising efforts included both a silent and live auction of musical memorabilia and experiences pledged by generous donors. The Rockin’ the Bay Benefit’s success is due in large part to the support of Little Kids Rock’s Bay Area Council and National Board members, sponsors, corporate donors like Facebook, and the tireless the volunteers that make evenings like the possible, and school music programming a reality for students across the nation.
About Little Kids Rock
Little Kids Rock is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that transforms children’s lives by restoring and revitalizing music education in public schools. Little Kids Rock was founded in San Francisco in 2002 by David Wish, an elementary school teacher who had grown frustrated with the lack of music education funding at his school. Today, Little Kids Rock is the leading nonprofit provider of free lessons and instruments to underprivileged children in US public schools, and has served nearly 250,000 students at over 1,700 schools in 25 cities nationwide. Little Kids Rock Honorary Board Members include Steven Van Zandt, Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Paul Simon, B.B. King, Ziggy Marley and other famous friends in the music industry. More info at: https://www.littlekidsrock.org.