Jon Bon Jovi, founder and front man for the iconic band Bon Jovi and Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, accepted the 2014 Marian Anderson Award last evening during a gala dinner and concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. The singer, songwriter, actor, and producer, known for his philanthropy, has a long history of civic and humanitarian outreach.
Both musically and philanthropically, Jon Bon Jovi’s work honors the spirit of America and salutes the principles that define our nation. Self-reliance, optimism, and community are key concepts he embodies, not just in his music, but also in his charitable efforts. These common threads have resulted in millions of dollars raised while bringing heightened awareness to the issues of homelessness and hunger that adversely impact our society. As Chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing about positive change and helping the lives of those in need “one SOUL at a time,” he focuses on the issues of food and shelter for individuals and families experiencing hunger and homelessness. In the Philadelphia region, the Foundation has supported a range of organizations, including Project HOME, Covenant House, Rebuilding Together and Northern Children’s Services, as well as Heart of Camden and Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society in Camden, NJ.
According to Nina C. Tinari, board chair of the Marian Anderson Award, “Jon Bon Jovi exemplifies the spirit of the Marian Anderson Award, which is to honor an artist whose leadership benefits humanity. We are honored to present him with this award in recognition of his many philanthropic contributions, especially those here in Philadelphia.”
Jon’s opening remarks reflected on the privilege of being named recipient of the Award: “I am deeply humbled to be here tonight to accept this award. I do so fully aware of the rich and powerful legacy of this honor and the many iconic figures who have stood here before me. Each of the recipients of the Marian Anderson Award made great contributions to the arts, of course – but they used their GIFTS to seek change in our society and culture. Marian Anderson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier - these great men and women were all blessed with tremendous artistic gifts and were all role models in the truest sense of the word. Although they were recognized for their gifts - - we celebrate them for their actions.”
Hosting last evenings gala was award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes. Performing during the prestigious event was rock band The All-American Rejects (performing an acoustic set); British singer-songwriter and Grammy Award-winner, Estelle; American actor, singer-songwriter, and record producer Jon Batiste of Stay Human; as well as 18-year-old Philadelphia violinist Sean Bennett, recipient of the Award’s Young Artist Study Grant, who this past summer attended the world-renowned Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.
In his remarks, Jon spoke about when the Soul Foundation [jbjsf.org] was founded: “We truly could not have known the lives we would touch or the impact it would have. It is the shared belief in the basic dignity of the human soul and HOW with a little hope and opportunity people from all walks of life have the potential to ASPIRE to greatness and along the way INSPIRE others.”
“It is such a special evening because the Marian Anderson Award Gala is the one night of the year in Philadelphia when we celebrate the unique capacity of the artist to change the world, “ said Tinari. She added, “This event allows us to celebrate the spirit and accomplishments of Marian Anderson and fulfill her intentions to support young, talented artists, like Sean Bennett, so that he and others like him will get the instruction needed to reach their full potential.”
The Young Artist Study Grant program (YASG) is administered with the support of Marian Anderson Award partner, the University of the Arts, and is also made possible through a new partnership with Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. YASG is designed to support high school-age artists who have financial challenges. Funds raised through the annual award gala help support this initiative and benefit over 20 students each year.
ABOUT THE MARIAN ANDERSON AWARD
The Marian Anderson Award was created in 1998 to celebrate critically acclaimed artists – individuals who have used their talents for personal artistic expression and whose body of work has contributed to our society in a singular manner. It is named in memory of the legendary singer and distinguished Philadelphian, Marian Anderson. Previous honorees include Harry Belafonte, Gregory Peck, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Richard Gere, Maya Angelou and Norman Lear, James Earl Jones, and Berry Gordy.