photos by Douglas Mason

Music Rising was launched in 2005 following the catastrophic hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The organization’s mission was to rescue the musical culture of the Gulf South region of the United States in their aftermath by replacing musical instruments that were 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 to thousands of musicians and students as well as to many churches, community, and cultural programs in the Gulf Region and across the United States.  

Since its inception, Music Rising has been proud to have assisted over 3,000 musicians. In April 2006, the organization 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 historic performance by U2 and Green Day at the New Orleans Superdome officially re-opening the stadium during the New Orleans Saints game. Later, the organization dedicated itself to helping churches and schools rebuild their music programs by replacing the instruments they had lost in the devastation. During this time, Music Rising provided tens of thousands of students with instruments to support music education and choir members with the instruments they needed to bring music back to their congregations. Music Rising was also dedicated to supporting a variety of community musical and cultural organizations and events.

Music Rising is proud to have also awarded a $1 million grant to Tulane University’s The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University (NOCGS). The Center is home to the 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 providing a ground-breaking online study resource. 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.

Music Rising’s commitment continued to grow by providing instruments to other areas across the country where school music programs were affected by natural or economic disasters. For example, Music Rising provided instruments and instrument repair to musicians and students that were affected by the floods in Nashville, Tennessee in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and provided other disaster relief to various organizations where music education was impacted. 

The charity is 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. 

Most recently, Music Rising has recognized the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on musicians and musical communities. The organization will be hosting a live musical instrument auction in December 2021 to benefit musicians in the Gulf South, honoring its original mission and focus when it launched in 2005. The auction will feature extraordinary guitars and personal items from some of the world’s most prominent musicians with all proceeds directly benefitting Music Rising. 

Music Rising is administered by The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and 100% of donations made to the Music Rising initiative go directly to this effort.

The greatest honor for Music Rising has been to answer the call to support those in need and to bear witness to the astounding creativity, resilience, and strength of citizens and communities in the face of adversity. It has also been an honor to be blessed with the generosity, commitment, and goodwill of all of our supporters. Music Rising is dedicated to helping music rise again following natural disasters and emergencies.


Guitarist with U2, The Edge was born David Howell Evans in East London.  A year later, he and his family moved to Dublin, where he attended Mount Temple School and met Larry Mullen, Bono and Adam Clayton.  In 1978 U2 was formed.

The Edge is the band’s lead guitarist, keyboard player and backing vocalist, as well as one of the principle songwriters and occasional lead vocal contributor. Described as one of the most innovative and influential guitar players of his generation, The Edge’s guitar playing is the hallmark of U2’s music and one of the most original and distinctive guitar styles in rock and roll history.

Acknowledged as one of the best live acts in the world, U2 have toured the globe countless times, released 14 studio albums and won numerous awards, including 22 Grammys®, an Oscar nomination and the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.  

The Edge has also written extensively for other projects, often in collaboration with Bono and U2, including music for movies (Captive, Gangs of New York, Golden Eye, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom); for animation (Batman – TV series); for the stage (A Clockwork Orange by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark).In 2005, The Edge co-founded Music Rising, a charity initiative which provides musical instruments for the musicians, schools and churches of the Gulf Region. The Edge is chairperson of the board for Endeavor Ireland, the global not-for-profit organisation that aims to support entrepreneurs. He also sits on the board of the Angiogenesis Foundation, as well as the advisory board of MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative and is a former board member of MIT Media Lab Europe.

In a legendary career as a music and entertainment producer and entrepreneur that has spanned nearly 50 years, Toronto-born Bob Ezrin has worked around the world on recordings, TV, film and live event production with a wide variety of artists including U2, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Andrea Bocelli, Edward Burtynsky, Alice Cooper, KISS, Lou Reed, Telephone, Jay-Z, Peter Gabriel, 2Cellos, Aerosmith, The Hollywood Vampires, Deftones, Rod Stewart, Nine Inch Nails and Pete Seeger among many others. 

He is a co-founder of Wow Unlimited Media Inc, a children’s entertainment company, The Nimbus School of Media Arts, as well as 7th Level Inc and Enigma Digital, both seminal companies in interactive entertainment, education and social media.

Bob is a multiple Juno Award winner and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in April 2004, and into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in March 2006. In 2012 he was named a Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and in 2013 was inducted into Canada’s Walk Of Fame.

Currently he is a member of the boards of directors of the AJA Foundation in Las Vegas, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in Los Angeles and The Canadian Journalism Foundation in Toronto; a Leadership Circle member of MusiCounts in Toronto, Canada; Chairman Emeritus of the Los Angeles Mentoring Partnership. In 2005, he co-founded Music Rising along with U2’s The Edge after Hurricane Katrina and has since gone on to provide over $2 million in aid to musicians who lost their livelihood and to the advancement of music education.  

Bob lives with his wife Janet in Nashville and Toronto.