JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Receives $25K Donation

December 22, 2023: JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Founder + President, Melissa Walker and her husband, 8-time GRAMMY-Award winning Artistic Director Christian McBride appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show to showcase the nonprofit and its initiatives as part of the show’s Holiday Giving Week that shines a light on organizations giving back to the community.

In a broad ranging interview that discussed the organization’s mission and multiple achievements, Clarkson praised JAZZ HOUSE, saying they’re “clearly changing lives.”

The segment culminated with the surprise donation of $25,000 from Wing Drone Delivery to support JAZZ HOUSE KiDS’ growth, ongoing mission and educational programming. During the interview, Walker described the nonprofit’s world-class education and performance programs that create avenues of access, learning, career development and community building, reaching more than 50K students. Through its work in New Jersey and NYC schools, and ensemble classes in Montclair, New Jersey and lower Manhattan, JAZZ HOUSE is an instrument for change in young people’s lives.

McBride talked about the legacy of jazz, born in the African-American experience and struggle, and how learning to play jazz helps young people develop skills in teamwork, empathy and improvisation — essential life skills on and off the bandstand.

“Jazz is the sound of freedom,” McBride explained. “Jazz is America’s indigenous artform. Jazz is a perfect balance of the head and the heart, and in order to learn this music properly, you have to have listening skills. You have to understand the concept of teamwork, and when you understand [teamwork] you understand empathy. Those three things together not only make you a really great musician, they make you a great human being and global citizen.”

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS is the nation’s preeminent jazz education organization and a major, year-round jazz presenter.

Daily music programs at their two sites in Montclair, NJ and lower Manhattan are dedicated to transforming lives using the power and legacy of jazz to create avenues of access, learning, career development and community building. JAZZ HOUSE and its students have received over 150 awards and its alumni are recognized as top talent on the jazz scene and leaders in many other industries.

Created 21 years ago with its first jazz workshop in Newark Schools, today JAZZ HOUSE KiDS works with more than 2,000 students ages 8-18 annually, providing tuition assistance or free programming for more than 50% of its young musicians and places instruments in the hands of students in underserved schools. Initiatives include the JAZZ HOUSE Academy in Montclair and NYC; the in-school JAZZ HOUSE Music Scholars program; the CHiCA Power Residency and Leadership Summit; the JAZZ HOUSE Summer Workshop; and the JAZZ HOUSE Goes to College + Careers in Music program and tuition assistance support. JAZZ HOUSE produces more than 100 free public concerts a year, creating meaningful connections among emerging musicians, working artists and music lovers, including its signature community-building program, the MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL – the largest free festival in the region, attended by 25,000 each year September and reaching thousands more online.

2024 Ralph Pucci Jazz Set featuring Sting and Christian McBride

Ralph Pucci 8th annual Jazz Set

On Wednesday, February 28, JAZZ HOUSE will host 200 guests for their 8th Annual Jazz Set: The Lowdown Conversation with Christian featuring world-renowned singer-songwriter, musician, actor, author and activist STING as the special guest at RALPH PUCCI International. 100% of the proceeds benefit JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, more information is here.


Now in its third decade, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS transforms lives using the power and legacy of jazz through world-class education and performances that create avenues of access, learning, career development and community building. The organization and students have received more than 150 awards and honors for excellence in jazz and jazz education. Every day of the week through a series of in-school programs in New Jersey and out-of-school programs in Montclair and New York City, JAZZ HOUSE helps young people gain an artistic edge, fostering community leaders and global citizens who help us build thriving communities. JAZZ HOUSE produces 150+ free public concerts per year to audiences close to 150,000, including the organization’s far-reaching cultural signature program, the award-winning MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL, the largest free jazz festival in the NYC area, attracting 25,000+ attendees to downtown Montclair each year.