Students from Providencia Elementary’s string orchestra performed at the 14th annual Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA) Benefit Gala honoring the Cusumano Real Estate Group, educator Angela Woo and Emmy-award winning music producer and director Rickey Minor with Shining Star Awards.
Held on Sunday, November 10, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the annual gala raises funds and awareness for supporting music programs in disadvantaged L.A. County schools.
Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Anthony Anderson, who currently stars in ABC’s black-ish, opened the affair. Students from Burbank’s Providencia Elementary School string orchestra and Los Angeles’ Hooper Avenue Elementary School choir, along with ETM-LA alumni performed for the audience.
Grammy-nominated vocalist Ledisi performed a rousing Aretha Franklin tribute, backed by the Rickey Minor Band. Grammy-nominated saxophonist David Koz also impressed the audience.
“I would not be who I am if it weren’t for organizations like ETM-LA,” said Ledisi, acknowledging she benefited from in-school music education, as she also thanked Minor for his long-time mentorship.
Emmy-award winning director and choreographer Debbie Allen presented Minor with his Shining Star Award. Music education Michael Stone and former Mayor of Burbank Michael Hasting also presented awards.
“Music has changed not only my life, but it changes the vibration of this planet,” commented Minor. “Through music, we can make this world a better place.”
“I love what I do… I look forward every day to being inspired by my students,” said honoree Woo, who has taught for over 25 years and is the Director of Instrumental Music and Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica.
“Education is really important in order for people to have full and successful lives,” stated Michael Cusumano, who received the Shining Star Award on behalf of his company, Cusumano Real Estate Group. “Music is an integral part of the education that our children should receive.”
Lola Debney and Alecia Spendlove served as Co-Chairs of the gala.
Honorary hosts included Christophe Beck, Andra Day, John Debney, Michael Giacchino, Jennifer Hudson, Quincy Jones, John Legend, Diana Ross, Randy Spendlove and Diane Warren.
More celebrities were sprinkled through the audience including Ernie Fields, Jr., Julianne Jordan, Christopher Lennertz, Manny and Terri Marroquin, Carin and Mark McGrath, Blake Neely, Rudy Sarzo, Rob Simonsen and Joseph Trapanese.
“We are grateful to our amazing honorees – true shining stars – for championing quality music education for all children in local disadvantaged schools,” commented ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier. “They demonstrate leadership in furthering our mission to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to reach their fullest potential through music and the arts.”
More images from the event can be found on the ETM-LA website here.
Currently, ETM-LA serves approximately 17,500 students with weekly music as part of the core
curriculum in the communities of Bellflower, Boyle Heights, Burbank, Compton, Chinatown, Downtown LA, East LA, Inglewood, Pasadena, South Central L.A. and throughout the San Fernando Valley.