Music Rising was launched to rescue the musical culture of the Gulf South region of the United States from the destruction caused by the catastrophic hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 by replacing the musical instruments lost or destroyed in the deluge. Co-Founded by U2’s the Edge and legendary producer Bob Ezrin along with a host of music industry partners, the organization provided instruments for thousands of musicians and students and many churches and community music and cultural programs in the Gulf South. Since 2005, there have been four phases of the Music Rising initiative.

Phase I consisted of the immediate need to give musicians who lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the instruments they needed to re-establish their livelihood. Music Rising is proud to have been able to assist over 3,000 musicians. In April 2006, Music Rising helped to re-open the historic Preservation Jazz Hall in New Orleans. This landmark survived Katrina but lost all of its instruments, which were replaced by Music Rising.

On September 25th, 2006, Music Rising heralded the commencement of Phase II with a historic performance by U2 and Green Day at the New Orleans Superdome. Phase II was dedicated to helping churches and schools rebuild their music programs by replacing the instruments that they lost in the devastation. Phase II was administered by the Gibson Foundation and enjoyed the continued support of The Guitar Center Foundation, Musican’s Friend, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, All Congregations Together and The Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. During Phase II, Music Rising provided tens of thousands of students with instruments for music education and choir members with the instruments they needed to bring the music back to their congregations. During Phase II, Music Rising was also dedicated to supporting community musical and cultural organizations and events.


Music Rising then launched Phase III by awarding a million dollar grant to Tulane University’s The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University (NOCGS). The Center is now home to a brand-new coordinate major, Music Rising – The Musical Cultures of the Gulf South, a course of study focused on the region’s music and culture as well as a ground-breaking online study resource which can be found at http://musicrising.tulane.edu which is available to students around the world. It also includes a robust K-12 component designed to introduced young students to this vibrant history. The NOCGS also co-sponsors the Trombone Shorty Academy (TSA), a program for teaching musical fundamentals and cultural traditions to young musicians from underserved New Orleans high schools.

Phase IV marked Music Rising’s commitment to provide instruments to other areas across the country where school music programs were affected by natural or economic disaster. Music Rising provided instruments and instrument repair to musicians and students that were affected by the floods in Nashville, Tennessee in 2010. Since then, Music Rising has served school music programs affected by Hurricanes and natural disasters across the country.

Music Rising is proud to have been the recipient of the 2005 Gold Halo Award for Cause Marketing, the 2006 Billboard Humanitarian Award, the 2008 PRISM Award and the recipient of close to $1 million from the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2016, Music Rising was honored with the prestigious Jazz Foundation of America Medal of Honor. Music Rising’s tagline is “Instruments for Disaster Relief.”

Music Rising is now committed to helping to replace instruments in schools affected by the devastation caused by recent catastrophic hurricanes and fires in the United States and U.S. Territories. The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation administers Music Rising and identifies and organizes the outreach to the schools that are served by the initiative. 100% of donations made to the Music Rising initiative go directly to this effort.

In closing, we wish to say that creating and building Music Rising has been a profound honor and one of the greatest experiences of our lives, and we have never ceased to be astounded by the creativity, resilience and strength of the citizens of any of the beleaguered regions and the generosity, commitment and good will of our many supporters in this effort. We remain dedicated to our mission of helping music always rise after disaster.