Humanitarian of the Year Tom Morello

Meet Tom Morello of the band Rage Against the Machine, our 2023 Music Will Humanitarian of the Year award recipient. Tom has spent his career not only making music but also making a difference in the lives of others. From his activism to philanthropic efforts, he embodies everything this coveted award stands for. 

Tom says of the award to FOBES, “My favorite part about this is not just the work that [Music Will does], but as someone who is a recipient of one of the awards, you get to pick 20 places where there are going to be new schools” that receive teacher training, curriculum, and resources they need to teach our modern band music program. For many of these schools, this will be the first time they have been able to offer a music education program to their students. 

Tom has, in true Humanitarian of the Year fashion, gone above and beyond in his involvement. Not only has he supported 20 schools that will receive professional development and instrument donations totaling over $6500 per school, but he has chosen to visit as many school launches as possible, including schools in LA, Harlem, and Marseilles, IL.

Tom kicked things off at Van Nuys High School in LA near his current home. Tom spent time meeting the students and teachers, as well as performing in the incredible launch of the school’s new instruments that he funded in partnership with Music Will. Check out these video clips from Tom’s visit capturing the event, including a group performance where Tom invited the students on stage to perform This Land is Your Land alongside him. 

The next stop, which happened to be the day before Tom’s band Rage Against the Machine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was only a mile away from where he was born in Harlem, NY. This stop founded a new modern band program at James McCune Smith School, an elementary school that Tom says, “rocked the house” during his visit. Watch here as a brave student asked Tom to perform a totally improvised solo — and he delivered!

And finally, Tom visited Marseilles Elementary, a small suburb of Chicago, where he grew up. Tom says, “My ancestors were coal miners here and my mom graduated from high school in this gym in 1940… yesterday was awesome rocking with these kids in a town where I have so many fond memories.” Catch some clips of Tom’s visit — especially the look on the music teacher’s face as they unveil the new instruments donated to the school!

Thanks to Tom Morello, twenty schools across the nation have new modern band programs. You can help bring music education to schools, just like Tom, through your generous donations to Music Will.

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