As VH1’s Save the Music Foundation celebrated their 20th anniversary last night at New York City’s Sir 37, they honored Queen Latifah, DJ Khaled and Steve Aoki at a star studded gala sponsored by Toyota along with Toys R US, IOMAXIS, Notable Wines, Lyft, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, ALEX AND ANI, Raymond Weil, Heineken, Moxy Times Square and JetBlue. Celebrity guests in attendance included LaLa Anthony, Naturi Naughton, Slick Rick, The Fat Jewish, Joe Alexander, Rocsi Diaz and Wyclef Jean, as well as radio personality Sway Calloway who gave the welcoming speech. DJ D-Nice provided the music for the evening. Also present was VH1 Save the Music Foundation Executive Director Henry Donahue.
“Not all children in America are afforded the same chances to succeed, but we believe in the power of music to help students fulfill their potential. That’s why we are more committed than ever to bringing music education to students who need it most,” said Henry Donahue, executive director of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation in a press release. “Not only is music education proven to help students be more successful, but we believe it’s every child’s right to access music and art within their school and community. With the continued support of our partners in communities across the U.S., we can help make music an essential piece of every child’s education in the next 20 years.”
The Knockturnal caught up with guests of honor Latifah and Aoki (who received the Music Innovator Award) on the black carpet before they made their way inside. Latifah told us about what more can be done to increase music education in schools saying, “We just have to save the programs. We have to take music and arts as seriously as we take math and science. If we take that attitude towards them then people will really see how relevant they are.” Queen had also announced prior that in partnership with the Save the Music Foundation they are committed to a 5 year plan which will donate $5 million to rebuild music in 38 schools in Newark, New Jersey. Actress and author LaLa Anthony who came out to show support expressed how Queen has inspired her saying,”She inspires me tremendously. I mean to just be able to do so many different things and be great at it, which is something I’m always continuing trying to do in my career trying to do more than one thing and be great at it. And her company brought my book The Love Playbook and we’re partnering on a movie together so I’m super excited about that.” About what being honored by the program means to him, Steve Aoki said, “It means a lot because music changed my life. So when I go back to when I was a teenager when I was in high school, if I didn’t find the guitar, if I didn’t find the microphone, if I didn’t find that music recording device and start making music I definitely wouldn’t be standing here right now. And I definitely wouldn’t creatively been finding my voice because it essentially is a tool for me to get my expressions out of my head and putting it into a creative outlet and that was the outlet that I chose.”
Wyclef Jean who paid tribute to Queen Latifah through performance joined by The Wavie Gang told The Knockturnal about expanding music programs, “Funding, and the funding has to come more than the government but more the private sector. You see the private sector has a responsibility, social entrepreneurship. So you should take it upon yourself and say you know what I’m gonna fund these amount of kids, these amount of public schools and it changes your life.”
VH1 Save The Music also unveiled a new grant program that will create more opportunities for students across the country and advance the Foundation’s mission to make music available in every public school in America. Introduced by Steve Aoki, the Music Tech Grant is planned as an investment in American public high schools to fund: the hardware, software, and musical instruments needed for audio engineering, recording, and production. DJ Khaled (who received the #ToyotaGiving Award from sponsor Toyota for his role as a champion for music programs in schools) and is also a national spokesman for VH1’s sister organization GET SCHOOLED, announced the program will launch the Win More Music Campaign for the 2017-18 school year, in partnership Save the Music. The campaign expands upon the 2016-17 award winning “Khaled Keys campaign” and is expected to reach more than one million young people and will expose them to key components of the music industry, including composition, collaboration, production, copyrighting basics marketing, and social media. The high schools with the most engaged students will earn DJ Khaled – We The Best DJ Studio Labs in their school.
Before leaving DJ Khaled chatted with The Knockturnal about who he wants to collaborate with in the future saying,“I haven’t collaborated with Eminem, Andre 3000 which I want to work with both of them. I worked with a lot so many, and there’s more out there. I would love to work with Adele, Seal, I like Seal too, you know what I’m saying Ed Shereen. Those are my friends, we just have to figure out how one day we can get in that studio. I’m ready.”