Los Angeles, CA, October 1, 2015: Ovation Music Fund (RSSF) Co-Founder and Executive Director Wendy Winks has announced multiple Grammy-nominated record producer, songwriter, musician, and mix engineer Greg Wells ( as Chairman of the BoardWells will work to build the 501(c)3 charity’s profile in the entertainment industry and broaden fundraising opportunities.

“We are so honored to welcome Greg Wells to the Ovation Music Fund team,” says Winks. “We have immense respect and admiration for his talents and accomplishments, and we love his passion for music scholarships.  It will be exciting to work with him to build our program into one that helps thousands of kids.”

Wells’ songs have appeared on more than 85 million albums. His many credits include Adele, Twenty One Pilots, Katy Perry, Rufus Wainwright, Pink, Holychild, Mayer Hawthorne, Mika, Timbaland, OneRepublic, Deftones, and the Count Basie Orchestra.

“My music career was made possible with the help of several scholarships, and helping young musicians attend music school is a cause close to my heart,” Wells states.  “I’m frankly on a mission to get as many kids as possible studying music.  I’m both inspired and honored to work with the RSSF and have high expectations for what the future can bring.”

Winks co-founded RSSF in 2010 with musician and producer Carl Restivo, who serves as the organization’s Music Director.   RSSF, which currently works with more than 120 schools in 28 states, is the first 501(c)3 to provide funds for children ages 7 to 17 who want to attend any rock music school in the U.S.  Students apply for scholarships based on financial need.  Rock schools offer interactive rock music courses that include private lessons, performance programs that get students playing live on stage, and curriculum that teaches rock music.  The number of participating rock schools has blossomed from 5 in 2009 to 122 in 2015, and the demand for scholarships is high.

“We – and the schools we work with – are continuously fundraising to try to meet the demand,” says Winks. “With music programs being cut from public schools, families need to pay tuition for their child to receive a music education, and many cannot afford it. We believe that any child who wants it should receive music lessons.”

RSSF’s mission has received enthusiastic support from the music community.  In January 2015, RSSF was chosen by the Foo Fighters as one of three charities to receive donations from ticket sales for their surprise benefit concert—and all-star birthday celebration for Dave Grohl—at the Los Angeles Forum.  The addition of Wells as Chairman of the Board is an important milestone in the organization’s growth.

Foo Fighters Benefit Concert Jan. 10, 2015!

Surprise Foo Fighters Concert on January 10th
— and Super Rad All-Star Birthday Blowout for Dave Grohl —
Benefits Rock School Scholarship Fund!


Sold out crowd at the Los Angeles Forum yielded $10 per ticket split between RSSF, MusicCares and Sweet Relief!


Now we can help MORE kids rock!



The Rock School Scholarship Fund ( was honored beyond belief to be selected as one of three beneficiaries of the surprise Foo Fighters benefit concert that took place at the fabulous LA Forum on Saturday, January 10, 2015. The concert was announced on January 7, with the last-minute event selling out within hours. $10 from each ticket sold to the capacity crowd was allocated for charity, split between RSSF, MusiCares, and Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

In addition to being a monumental send-off celebration just before the launch of the Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways world tour, the concert-in-the-round was a star-studded birthday party for Dave Grohl, featuring a string of guest artists throughout the evening—opening with “Detroit Rock City” with Paul Stanley from KISS onstage. A massive balloon-drop accompanied a high-octane rendition of “Happy Birthday” with Slash and Tenacious D accompanying, Jack Black on lead vocals (this grouping also did Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song”)


The set list:


The set included Foos numbers and signature songs from guests including Perry Farrell, Alice Cooper, David Lee Roth, Zakk Wylde, Trombone Shorty, and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. For detailed overviews of the entire show, and how it was announced, visit these links:

“It is hard to adequately express how significant this donation from Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters is for Ovation Music Fund,” says RSSF Co-Founder and Executive Director Wendy Winks. “It makes such a meaningful difference in the amount of young people we will be able to help with scholarship funds. We are so grateful.”

On a stormy night in L.A. that brought one of the hardest rains here in recent years, nothing could dampen the spirits of the 17,000 or so people who were lucky enough to experience this once in lifetime “Dave’s Birthday Club” extravaganza.


Richie Sambora and Orianthi Celebrate the Season and Support Young Musicians!

Rock star Richie Sambora (Songwriter Hall of Fame, and former lead guitarist and songwriter for Bon Jovi) is a longtime supporter of the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade – a nationally televised parade that benefits the Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots charitable holiday season toy drive. Sambora was invited to perform again this year as part of a star-studded event featuring performances from Stevie Wonder, Heart, Taylor Dayne and many more. Joining Richie onstage would be ace guitarist Orianthi, and Michael Bearden, Michael Jackson’s Musical Director for “This Is It.”

Richie wanted to have a children’s choir sing with them on “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s classic 1971 Christmas song/anti-war anthem.

Orianthi, an honorary board member for Ovation Music Fund – then known as the Rock School Scholarship Fund (RSSF) – reached out to RSSF’s co-founder and Executive Director Wendy Winks for help in rounding up young vocalists.

“RSSF is very grateful for Orianthi’s ongoing support,” says Winks. “We had such a great time when she headlined a benefit concert for us at Center Staging in 2012. I wanted to do everything that I could to help her, Richie and Michael realize their vision for the parade, and make such a powerful song relevant to a new generation of children.

Winks arranged for students—ages 9 to 15—from rock music schools in West Los Angeles and Burbank to participate. Everyone enjoyed a special day of rehearsals at Richie’s home on Friday, November 28.

And despite some morning rain showers, everyone’s mood was buoyant two days later during the rehearsal on Sunday, the day of the parade. But the rain persisted, and the performance was cancelled.

Richie deeply felt the kids’ disappointment, and approached the Hallmark Channel—a sponsor of the Parade—about turning it into a special television event. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with Richie, Orianthi, and the children’s choir was filmed and recorded at Universal Studios, and broadcast on The Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family show on December 8th and 9th.

Interview with Richie and Orianthi on Hallmark Home & Family

Performance “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with Choir from School of Rock

Thank you Richie Sambora and Orianthi for helping kids rock!

Thank you School of Rock West Los Angeles and School of Rock Burbank for your totally rockin’ kids!

Richie Sambora, Orianthi & Students From School of Rock LA at Hollywood Sound Studios

Rock School Scholarship Fund Co-hosts Youth Songwriter Program

Rock School Scholarship Fund Partners With Carnegie Hall and Casterbridge Music Development Academy to Co-host Youth Songwriter Program

A Panel of VIP Judges Select Six young U.S. Musicians to Participate in South African Festival

The idea for the Youth Songwriter Program came to Rock School Scholarship (RSSF) Co-Founder and Executive Director Wendy Winks in 2012 after she was approached for advice by Paul Bruce-Brand, a founder of the Casterbridge Music Development Academy (CMDA) in White River, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

Winks and Brand presented a concept for an international musical exchange program to the Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute Musical Exchange. The Institute helped facilitate a nationwide competition in the U.S. to send six young musicians to South Africa to collaborate and perform with their counterparts there.

In 2013, entries were judged by music luminaries Dave Matthews, Vicki Peterson (The Bangles), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo) and GRAMMY –winner/ Songwriters Hall Of Fame inductee Holly Knight. The winners—from California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia—were: Anna Pearl Belinda, Carmen Day, Dylan De Anda, Abby Hwong, Jason Matkin and Samuel Mayer.

Meet The Songwriters:  Carnegie Hall Youth Songwriter Musical Exchange

From Manhattan to Mpumalanga, a Global Musical Journey

On November 30, 2013, the six winners of the Youth Songwriter Program flew to New York City to attend an Arlo Guthrie and Family concert at Carnegie Hall.  The show also featured Pete Seeger, and turned out to be the folk legend’s final live performance.

The following day, the winners—accompanied by Winks, RSSF Music Director Carl Restivo, and Yasmin DeSoiza from Carnegie Hall—traveled to South Africa, where they were also joined by Christopher Amos, Carnegie Hall’s Director of Media Education & Technology.  At the Casterbridge Music Development Academy, they collaborated with South African students, forming bands and learning each other’s original songs, with arrangements by Restivo. Three days of rehearsals and music and cultural exchange led up to the Route 40 Music Festival in White River.

The three-day festival featured many of South Africa’s most popular rock bands, including Prime Circle, Watershed, The Parlotones, Vusi Mahlasela, and others.  Each day, the U.S./South African student bands opened for the headliners. The first day of the festival was marked by the passing of the legendary Nelson Mandela, resulting in the festival being dedicated to his memory.

Honoring Nelson Mandela

During the festival, workshops were led by artists including Vusi Mahlasela, a close friend of Mandela. Although Vusi had once been jailed and beaten for singing anti-apartheid songs, “forgiveness” was a recurring theme in his stories.  Instead of sadness, the South African community paid joyful tribute to Mandela’s life and legacy.

Two of the U.S. students, Dylan De Anda and Samuel Mayer, were selected to learn the South African song “Weeping,” an important anti-apartheid song from the 1980s. It contains elements from “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” which had been banned in South Africa at the time—inclusion of even the melody violated the law.

Today, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” is part of the country’s national anthem. In concert, “Weeping”—including the formerly illegal lyrics “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo”—featured De Anda on vocals, accompanied by fellow Youth Songwriter Program winner Mayer and the South African band, Vital Crew.


For More On This Story From Carnegie Hall, Please Click Below:

Jackson Browne Helps Kids Rock At The Troubadour!

Photo credit:  Mike Skillsky

The Rock School Scholarship Fund (RSSF) hosted a fall 2013 fundraiser featuring special guest Jackson Browne. Playing to a capacity crowd on November 24 at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame- and Songwriters Hall of Fame-inducted artist opened the evening with a short set accompanied by guitarist Val McCallum. Continue reading

Doors Guitarist And Singer-Songwriter Robby Krieger Helps Kids Rock With Benefit Performances for RSSF!


Legendary Doors guitarist and singer-songwriter Robby Krieger has performed with students from Neighborhood Rock School in Burbank and School of Rock West LA in two sold-out benefit concerts for the Rock School Scholarship Fund (RSSF). Krieger was first introduced to RSSF co-founders Wendy Winks and Carl Restivo when they ran the School of Rock Hollywood, and he was a surprise guest performer at a Tribute to The Doors show that the school hosted at The Mint in Los Angeles. Continue reading

Fundraiser With James Durbin & Orianthi!

“Heaven In This Hell – 3:30”

March 2012: American Idol finalist James Durbin blew the audience away with his tribute to Ronnie James Dio, and Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” guitarist Orianthi inspired all with her new song “Heaven In This Hell” produced by Dave Stewart. Continue reading

Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics Performs with Judith Hill & Ann Marie Calhoun

Students from School of Rock Hollywood Join him on Stage for “Underneath It All”

September 2010

Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) became the first artist to perform at a benefit concert for the newly formed Rock School Scholarship Fund (RSSF) 501c3 public charity. The evening was hosted by Anqi by Crustacean in Costa Mesa, who also donated a portion of their food and beverage proceeds. The law firm of RSSF founding board member Peter Afrasiabi – ONE LLP – was also a host and event sponsor.

The evening’s entertainment opened with a set of rock classics performed by the School of Rock Hollywood House Band. Stewart – who in addition to being one-half of the 75 million record selling Eurythmics, has co-written hit songs with Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Brian Ferry, Katy Perry, and many, many more – then performed a set of his original songs accompanied on keys and vocals by Judith Hill (Prince, “20 Feet From Stardom,” Michael Jackson) and by the talented Ann Marie Calhoun on violin.

The highlight of the night was Dave Stewart and Ann Marie Calhoun performing “Underneath It All” – a song Dave co-wrote with Gwen Stefani – with the students from the School of Rock Hollywood.

The evening raised nearly $25,000 for the scholarship program. Dave was gracious enough to donate several items to the auction, including two 3’x 3’ large format framed prints made from photos he took of Mick Jagger and Tom Petty which sold for thousands apiece after some very spirited bidding.

Other items put up for auction included two guitars signed by Dave, elite vacation packages, a Bike Religion bicycle, custom rock n’ roll themed iron art pieces, jewelry and more.