Why Not You Foundation, Seattle Symphony, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Benefit Concert Raises Nearly $1.4 Million To Support Youth, Equity and Access To The Arts


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Last night, the Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the Seattle Symphony and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis for an inspirational one-night-only benefit concert at Benaroya Hall in support of greater equity and opportunities for youth, and access to the arts. This special evening was hosted by Russell Wilson, conducted by Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta, and featured individual and collaborative performances by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ciara, and the Seattle Symphony.

Funds raised from the benefit concert totaled nearly $1.4 million with all proceeds directly support initiatives and programs of the Why Not You Foundation, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Equity Fund, and the Seattle Symphony. Donations can still be made online at seattlesymphony.org/yea.

The evening opened with Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor Pablo Rus Broseta leading the orchestra in a performance of Bernstein’s Overture to Candide. Seattle Symphony Board Chair Leslie Jackson Chihuly and Larry Estrada, Board member of the Seattle Symphony and the Why Not You Foundation, welcomed the audience and explained the cause that united the three organizations.

Russell hosted the evening and introduced performances by current and past participants who have benefited from each organization’s respective programs.  Tah-jae, a sophomore at Seattle’s Franklin High School and mentee of Friends of the Children, performed a spoken word piece, titled after Russell and Ciara’s foundation, “Why Not You.” The Why Not You Foundation partners with organizations to inspire and empower children so they reach their highest potential.

“We are so proud of our work in the community through the Why Not You Foundation and are always looking for ways to collaborate with innovative partners such as the Seattle Symphony and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to have a greater impact,” said Russell Wilson.

“Music is so powerful and inspiring,” says Ciara. “Just as we look to the gym for our physical well-being, music and the arts is an avenue for mental and emotional wellness and healing. We are truly grateful for our community’s support and excited that the funds raised tonight will directly benefit the lives of kids throughout our region.”

Third through fifth grade Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School students who have participated in the Seattle Symphony’s Link Up program joined the orchestra on stage as the audience sang along to Beethoven’s famous Ode to Joy. Link Up is a multi-year curriculum that encourages young students to fully participate in the music-making process. Taught by classroom teachers, music teachers or Seattle Symphony teaching artists, Link Up culminates in a performance at Benaroya Hall where students sing and play along with the orchestra.

Glasshouse, aspiring teen hip-hop artists from The Residency, performed original songs on the program. The Residency is a program founded by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis that provides teens with tools they need to strengthen songwriting, performance techniques and beat production. Two alumni from the program, Talaya Logan and Aurelio Valdez, joined Russell to share how their experience in The Residency helped their growth as individuals and young artists. A powerful poetry reading by The Residency participant Lashaunycee O’Cain followed.

"I was fortunate growing up to have access to equipment and opportunities that helped me find my passion in music. We wanted to do whatever we can to give young people great opportunities, so they can discover their passions," said Ryan Lewis. "Seattle has always been a place that values creativity and culture. Creating music and arts opportunities for youth is an important way to continue that tradition."

“As our city grows and changes, it's so important for us to be supporting and investing in young people. If we want this generation and the next generation to be healthy, fulfilled and to make progress, then we need to give young people the space and platform to express themselves,” added Macklemore.

After intermission students from the Garfield High School Orchestra joined the Seattle Symphony side-by-side on stage, performing “Same Love” and “Otherside” with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, with special appearances by Mary Lambert and Eric Nally. The program concluded with collaborative performances by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ciara and the Seattle Symphony.

This unique event sprang from conversations between the artists and organizations as they explored fun and creative ways to come together in an effort to inspire and engage the greater community to support critical programs that are focused on youth, equity and access to the arts.

This special musical evening was presented by Alaska Airlines, with additional sponsors including T-Mobile, Aegis Living, Safeway, Expedia, Larry & Brittni Estrada, Goldman Sachs, Linda Rae Hickey & Mark Grant, Jeffrey & Grace Roh, Intuitivex and Wheels Up.