As many of my generation(you know those who were around and lived through the Stevie run, the MJ run and the other countless special Grammy moments) that parenthetical phrase was not to diminish the importance of The Grammys, it was more to point out that as the awards have become more and more something that resembles a popularity contest many who recall the glory days greet the broadcast with a “meh”.

Just as all good things must come to an end perhaps the converse holds true as well… so it was definitely exciting to see the above nomination for the collaboration between Snarky Puppy & Lalah Hathaway. Great musicians making great music. This special night of music was a benefit no less for The Downtown Music Lab in Roanoke,VA.

I just wanted to take a minute to not only provide congrats all the way round but to share a little bit of dot connecting to show the true power of music and how The Grammys were a part of this from the beginning 24 years ago.

February 24, 1987 Bruce Hornsby & The Range win The Grammy for “Best New Artist”. I happened to be watching the broadcast that night and excited to see someone from my homestate of Virginia doing big things in the music world. I had no idea how that win and the subsequent success of Bruce Hornsby would impact not only my life but hundreds of others.

Bruce’s longtime songwriting partner was his brother John. In 1992 after relocating to Charlottesville, VA John had the idea of providing a safe haven for youth to attend afterschool and on weekends to take music lessons, record, form bands etc., etc., In early 1993 I and 11 other Charlottesville, VA area musicians were recruited to help get this project off the ground. The Music Resource Center opened in June 1995 and has served hundreds of kids annually ever since. In 1997 Ed Walker a Roanoke,VA area attorney attended the wedding of local Charlottesville musician and filmmaker Shannon Worrell. In lieu of gifts attendees were encouraged to donate to one of several Charlottesville charities, The Music Resource Center being on of those charities listed. Intrigued Ed reached out to John Hornsby and the staff at the center and myself and John traveled to Roanoke in the Fall of 1998 to meet with Ed and his committee. The following Fall The Downtown Music Lab opened its doors.

I haven’t been involved with The Music Resource in well over a decade but I certainly have kept abreast of what’s been going on there as well as The Downtown Music Lab. The 2013 world is much different musically and technologically than those nascent days in the mid-90’s where showing a kid how to sample on an MPC was truly like going to the amusement park because of access. But one thing remains for certain regardless of how technology can make it easy in theory to make music, nothing can replace the positive impact that mentoring can have on a young person. What better example to have or how cool is it for the young people who attend The Downtown Music Lab to be in the presence (and for some perform with) of such great musicians? This is something that all involved will never forget and all because some musicians decided that is would be in their best interest to “Play It Forward…” Pun definitely intended.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.