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.
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“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.
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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