Welcome to the 16th annual San Diego Music Awards. You may notice a few changes this year. First, we're excited to be at a new venue: Viejas Concerts in the Park. And second, we're proud to announce the creation of the San Diego Music Foundation. A new nonprofit organization, the foundation is focusing its efforts on local musician assistance, music education, professional development, live performance and an annual awards show that recognizes creative achievement in the San Diego music community. The foundation's primary goal is to advance artistic growth and increase understanding, appreciation, enjoyment and interest in music and its ability to enhance and enrich the San Diego region.
In 1991, the inspiration behind the San Diego Music Awards was to recognize San Diego music, and to give back to the community. We continue that tradition today, funding music-education programs in schools throughout San Diego County while honoring San Diego musicians and their music. To date, more than $400,000 has been donated to purchase school music equipment in San Diego.
Homegrown music continues to make itself known on a national and international level. We've seen success from artists like Angels & Airwaves, Switchfoot, Jason Mraz, Louis XIV, Unwritten Law, Jewel, Nickel Creek, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Pinback and others, many of whom got their starts in local bars, jazz joints or coffeehouses. More and more, San Diego artists are keeping San Diego at the forefront of the music world.
The fundraising program that was created-Taylor Guitars for Schools-has now donated 1,042 guitars to 49 elementary schools. We continue to help elementary-age school children across the county learn how to play one of the finest acoustic instruments in the world. This includes schools in communities like Alpine, Chula Vista, Clairemont, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Pacific Beach, Point Loma, Julian, Oceanside and Santee. And that's just during the past seven years. There are many volunteers who donate their time and resources on top of those who buy tickets or donate additional money-and that's because they know where the money goes: to help the children of our community.
This year was especially difficult, as we had to day goodbye to two longtime members of the San Diego music scene: Buddy Blue and, more recently, jazz icon Hollis Gentry III.
Many thanks go out to our longtime friends and sponsors, and especially to all of our friends in the San Diego media, friends that have made this event an annual sellout, which drives our fund-raising efforts year in and year out.
On behalf of our board of directors, volunteer staff and music fans from all over San Diego County, congratulations to each and every one of the 2006 nominees-your music is a breath of life to everyone who listens. Equally as important, thanks everyone who continues to attend and support and purchase the music of San Diego performing artists.
Al Guerra President, San Diego Music Foundation