AMRIT performs a DJ set at MusiCares' Ambassadors rooftop party in New York
Photo: Marisa Boras
Inside MusiCares' New York Ambassadors Rooftop Party
Music heals and transforms lives in many ways. MusiCares, a program created by the Recoding Academy to "safeguard the health and well-being of all music people," celebrated this and so much more Aug 22 at an exclusive fundraiser hosted on the rooftop of Sony Music in New York City.
Industry veterans, musicians, record label executives and allies to the industry enjoyed live music and shared conversation, food and drinks to benefit an important cause. But everyone wasn’t a veteran. There were plenty of young music professionals - a new pool of talent just getting started on their promising careers - who showed up to celebrate and learn more.
Michael McDonald speaks at the MusiCares Ambassadors rooftop party in New York
Photo credit: Marisa Boras
One of the organization’s missions is to raise awareness among the next generation of music makers and spread the message that there is a confidential resource and support system available in times of need. Whether someone in a band can’t perform because of a broken arm, or a tour manager struggles with a drug addiction, MusiCares can help. Just ask the 125,000 clients who have received financial assistance, addiction recovery services and preventive care from MusiCares since 1989.
No one knows this better than Michael McDonald, the organization's board chair and founder of Mick Management, who was front and center at last night’s event. The room grew quiet as he shared his own heart felt testimony. What was a rooftop bustling with laughter and chatter just minutes before became an attentive and focused crowd focused on one man’s story of redemption and recovery.
McDonald has managed artists such as John Mayer and Childish Gambino, so he knows what it takes to be successful and what challenges arise along the way. He told the attentive audience of his own struggles with drugs and alcohol, recalling being on the road as a tour manager with Dave Matthews Band and realizing that he needed help. A friend recommended MusiCares and he began going to therapy twice a week.
"The organization saved my life," McDonald says. He is committed to the program because of the tremendous help it provides those in need.
"The more we spread the word, the more people are going to be aware of MusiCares and, hopefully, there will be fewer people who have to suffer," says McDonald, whose current roaster of artists include Phillip Phillips, Ray LaMontagne, Jon Batiste, Maggie Rogers, and WALK THE MOON.
Because no one can do it alone, McDonald has a lot of help spreading the word about MusiCares these days. In addition to generous donors, a group of volunteer ambassadors are on the ground, getting the word out to younger people and planning events.
MusiCares’ New York ambassador and co-chair Rebecca Buckley, who last night had the pleasure of introducing the electrifying live band A R I Z O N A, plays an important advisory role. She became committed to the organization when a friend who was on tour didn’t want to have surgery because he couldn’t afford to take time off. He had never heard of MusiCares until Buckley recommended he give them a call.
"There’s a knowledge gap, and ironically people in their 20s and 30s are often the people who need the resources the most," says Buckley.
The music industry can be a risky and fickle one. Pursuing a life’s passion and creating art without a safety net can be daunting, especially at the early stages of a career. MusiCares has been a friend and ally. It provides resources that allow people to make it through hard times and return to their careers creating great music, and McDonald is committed to growing that commitment.
"We need to look after each other," he says. "We need to take care of the people who give us great art."
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