Around Town: SoundExchange Summer Benefit

The music rights nonprofit organized a fundraiser concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, featuring a performance from Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue.

Story and Photos by Julie Gallagher

Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue performing at the charity concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts on June 23.

Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue perform at the charity concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts on June 23.

Guests gathered on June 23 at a concert fundraiser for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts on the rooftop of 101 Constitution Ave., with some of the District’s most notable landmarks serving as a backdrop to the evening.

SoundExchange, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of music creators, performers and record labels, organized this inaugural “summer music celebration” with a performance from Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue.

“We’re all about trying to make sure creators are paid fairly for what they do and to help create a vibrant music future for creators coming up,” SoundExchange President and CEO said. “What’s really important is to make sure that generations coming up, who are going to be the creators of tomorrow, have the proper training and can really make it in the world that we’re in today.”

Michael Huppe welcomed guests to the event after students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts performed.

Michael Huppe welcomes guests to the event after students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts performed.

The funds raised from the event will go towards providing general support for the arts program at the school. It is a D.C. public school, with a general curriculum in the morning and afternoons devoted to different music, dance and theater programs.

“The thing that is unique about our programs at Ellington is that a kid may come there initially because maybe they feel uncomfortable in a public school setting, larger settings,” , Chief Development Officer of The Ellington Fund, said. “They may not be really comfortable with themselves or comfortable with their art but they come to Ellington and they have the chance to really be who they are.”

The school had a 98 percent graduation rate this year, and 96 percent of the graduating class will attend college or conservatory this fall.

Students in the school’s Radical Elite Show Band performed fun hits like “Yoga” and showed off some of their dance moves as attendees mingled with cocktails in hand and munched on appetizers for the first half of the night.

Trombone Shorty, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who makes headlines with his trombone and trumpet, met with the student band during sound check and later had the entire rooftop dancing along to the band’s upbeat hip hop and jazz-inspired tunes.

“To have this type of act come and inspire the kids that we’re here for is an awesome opportunity,” Huppe said about Trombone Shorty & New Orleans Avenue.

Harriette Ecton, Chief Development Officer of The Ellington Fund, and Desepe de Vargas, principal of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Harriette Ecton, Chief Development Officer of The Ellington Fund, and , principal of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Ecton said the students practiced some of Trombone Shorty’s songs and were very excited when they had opportunity to play for him before the show.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts will continue their fundraising efforts with its first big gala, “An Evening at Duke’s Place” on September 30.

Guests left the celebration with a SoundExchange flask and Kind granola bar in hand.

“We couldn’t be happier with the turnout, the talent, and the support that we’ve had across the community,” Huppe said, noting the event had many sponsors from across the music industry and the larger local community.

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