Founder Michelle Edgar inspires and empowers with her ever-growing charity Music Unites.

Music Unites Founder and Executive Director Michelle Edgar has a mission: to foster a lasting and profound love of all musical expression with people from all walks of life. This mission is built off an impressive history. You could catch Edgar, when she was just a little girl in her parent’s house, banging on black and white keys for hours at a time. This early obsession lead to years of musical education and Michelle continuously exposed herself to various kinds of music as she grew tall. She is authentic in her passion and it’s clear what pulls at her heart’s strings. With such an overwhelming amount of passion, Music Unites’ mission is likely to rub off on all people involved. It’s not only about music… Once you are on board, you are a part of a movement. You are family. — Emily Marucci

MUSIC IS…

Michelle Edgar: My life. It’s something I can’t live without. My inspiration. The gift that I share with the world.

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR LOVE OF MUSIC CAME FROM? WAS IT YOUR UPBRINGING?

Yeah, I mean I studied music since the age of five. As a child I would just sit at the piano for hours and my parents started noticing that I had a gift and had me audition for a music school. I went Manhattan School of Music for thirteen years and I continued developing it throughout my life. I then went to Northwestern to be a concert pianist.

HOW DID YOU END UP PICKING THE PIANO AS YOUR FIRST INSTRUMENT?

I think it was just something that I was drawn to. Maybe it was the sound. The keys. I would just play for hours at a time. It’s just always been an important part of my life and a way for me to express myself.

DID YOU EVER WRITE YOUR OWN MUSIC?

It’s funny… I never did. Especially since I have been a journalist for many years. I wrote words, but never music. It’s never too late though, maybe it’s the next chapter.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST CD YOU OWNED?

It must have been between Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block.

SO, WHEN YOU MOVED TO NYC AND NOTICED SEGREGATION IN MUSIC, WAS IT BECAUSE IT WAS HARD TO FIND VENUES THAT BROUGHT TOGETHER ALL THE DIFFERENT GENRES OF MUSIC?

It’s not just the venues. People try to keep things in a box. Classical music is so different than mainstream Pop and Rock. For me, it was frustrating that people weren’t sharing all different types of music with each other. Why are my friends not listening to Classical and Jazz music? Maybe it’s the venues, maybe they aren’t hearing about the artists. So I wanted to break down the traditional barriers that prevent audiences from seeing a lot of different kinds of music.

DO YOU THINK THERE IS A LACK OF APPRECATION FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF MUSIC, SUCH AS CLASSICAL?

Maybe a lack of awareness. In this day and age, music is so accessible; it’s such an exciting time. Our generation loves to discover new talent. If it’s positioned in the right way, I think that’s key. When it’s introduced to young taste-makers in a different light, that makes it exciting. Maybe it could be two artists that would never come together that come together? I think that can change ones perspective.

HOW IMPORTANT IS MUSIC EDUCATION?

It’s a key component. It doesn’t just teach children about music, it teaches them about culture. It enables them to develop their true talents. Music Unites is more than music education. Our program creates mentorships for kids to build relationships with industry leaders who can teach them the ins and outs of the business, which helps if they want to make it into a professional career.

TELL US ABOUT MUSIC UNITES YOUTH CHOIRS…

We funded in conjunction with the Young Audiences of New York for the last three years, which is an afterschool program that brings students together from across the five boroughs. I felt strongly about taking what we’ve built with this partnership and working with individual communities directly so that public high schools can be involved with the choir campaign. The goal is to have five schools over the next two years and then go from there.

THE LIKES OF MARK RONSON AND STING ARE ON BOARD… TELL US HOW YOU GOT THEM INVOLVED?

It’s been a very grassroots approach, since I want it to be authentic because of the type of work we are doing. We like to create programs that our artists will get behind and be excited about so they are in it for the long haul. There are songwriting workshops and a fun sound check party creating unique experiences for the kids to interact with the artists.  Sting worked with us six months into the charities life. We were very blessed to work with such an iconic legend. I tell my artists this is not just building free after school programs, it’s about creating a movement. Getting up and coming artists, as well as established artists, to help raise awareness for the importance of music education. They can share their story and educate the masses about why music is important to them. It takes that kind of support to really make change in the community — especially in the time where all the budgets are being cut. It’s about the movement, the family and a community of artists.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR MUSIC UNITES IN THE UPCOMING YEAR?

To create amazing programs! To bring music into the lives of our students. Success stories. To get the word out. Make social change. They don’t need to be the next Beyoncé… If they get turned onto a career in music, if they want to go to college, then my dream will be fulfilled.

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