Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jackson Browne headlined the 10th annual Artists for the Arts benefit concerts this past weekend at Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall, helping to raise $125,000 for arts programs.
Browne shared the stage with fellow rock icon Gary Wright, known for “Dreamweaver” and other classic rock hits, and local rock band Venice, a touring group with more than 20 years playing with some of the biggest names in music, officials with the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation said.
All three were joined by student orchestras, choirs and soloists from Santa Monica, Malibu and Olympic high schools.
Emceed by longtime KLOS radio personality Cynthia Fox, the Saturday night show also featured an auction of music treasures including signed guitars, a drum set, tickets to the 2014 Grammys, and other unique items, all supporting the cause.
Among the many highlights of the evening was a rousing rendition of the Beatles’ classic “With A Little Help from My Friends” featuring all the artists on stage together, joined by student and faculty musicians and student vocalists. The crowd was on its feet throughout the song, which preceded the closing number, the classic 1970s anthem “Take It Easy,” led by Browne.
The funds raised will be added to the Education Foundation’s For The Arts endowment, supporting visual and performing arts education throughout the SMMUSD.
Browne, the artist who originated this annual benefit concert with Venice a decade ago, was playing for the fifth time in the event’s 10-year history, and he and the other artists committed to a second night this year when the Saturday show sold out so quickly, organizers said.
“Arts in high school are really important,” Browne said. “Arts make the individual complete. Arts connect us to the rest of society. They give us a chance to express ourselves and to channel our emotions … and to have a healthy emotional life you have to have an outlet for that. And arts, like sports, are really important for people who are developing.”
Since 2004, the Ed Foundation has been the beneficiary of annual benefit concerts that bring featured artists onstage with student musicians for an evening of music and philanthropy.
Produced by the Artists for the Arts Foundation, these concerts have now raised nearly $900,000 for arts programs in Santa Monica and Malibu public schools over the past decade. Featuring Venice every year as the house band, past concerts have included David Crosby, Billy Idol, America, and many other music icons, all of whom have donated their time and talents to perform onstage alongside musicians and singers from all three Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District high schools.
To learn more about Artists for The Arts Foundation, visit www.aftafoundation.org.