In a Capitol Hill ceremony attended by musical artists and other advocates for music education, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va), Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Randall Reid-Smith, Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, were each honored by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and presented with the SupportMusic Award from NAMM for their leadership of the statewide rebuild of West Virginia music education programs. The awards were presented by NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond, VH1 Save the Music Foundation chairman Tom Calderone, and the students from the Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Middle School jazz ensemble.
The honorees were also treated to a rare joint performance by the Shepherdstown Middle School jazz ensemble and advocate-artists former NY Yankee and guitarist Bernie Williams and Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who performed their spirited rendition of St. James Infirmary, a well-known, jazz standard. They started with a trombone solo in the style of early New Orleans jazz, then moved into a more contemporary style arrangement. Singer/songwriter/musician Vanessa Carlton saluted the students and senators with remarks. The Shepherdstown ensemble is a 2012 VH1 Save The Music Foundation grant recipient.
The SupportMusic Award presentation took place during NAMM’s annual D.C. Fly-In, during which 30 NAMM members, artists and other leaders of the music instrument and products industry convened to advocate to Congress on the importance of comprehensive music education in the nation’s schools. This year’s Fly-In included special events at the Kennedy Center and the U.S. Capitol, and more than 80 Capitol Hill meetings with congressional leaders.