November 28, 2023
"Music gave the Bay Area its soul," Sheila E. says. "We've been through hard times before, and music is the one tool that brings people together to imagine a different future."

Legendary 49er Ronnie Lott and music star Sheila E. are among the arts/media/sports/business leaders who are banding together for Follow the Music.

It’s a new music education and emerging artists program that has been developed in partnership with Elevate Oakland (which was co-founded by Sheila E.).

The program is set to kick off with a concert featuring young artists from Oakland School for the Arts, GLIDE Memorial Church, San Francisco Community Music Center, ELM (Enriching Lives Through Music), Blue Bear School of Music and SFJAZZ at 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park. Tickets are $20,

The organization’s name — Follow the Music — serves as “a call to action inspired by the Bay Area’s unrivaled legacy of music and social justice. It recognizes that young people are inheriting a world facing profound challenges, and music has a unique ability to help them express themselves, and navigate the road ahead,” according to a news release.

“Music gave the Bay Area its soul,” Sheila E. says. “We’ve been through hard times before, and music is the one tool that brings people together to imagine a different future. Together we can support the next generation.”

Sheila E. performs during half time of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

Sheila E. and Lott (as well as other Niner alumni) will also attend the kickoff. The goal of the evening is “to center the conversation about music education and supporting young artists in the Bay Area and beyond,” according to a news release.

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“Watching young, gifted athletes rise from being a kid to an adult is an incredible journey,” Lott says. “We believe music can have the same impact on young lives, and we want to make sure that the young musicians have the same coaching and support that athletes get. We believe that we can help provide that for young people.”