Miami-Dade County

Music changed his life. Now he wants it to inspire another generation of young people.

Kyle Tennyson and Nicolaus Gelin perform at a Young Musicians Unite festival. The annual spring festival, which will be on May 25,  is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.
Kyle Tennyson and Nicolaus Gelin perform at a Young Musicians Unite festival. The annual spring festival, which will be on May 25, is the largest fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

Sammy Gonzalez, 33, credits music for changing his life.

Today, the Miami native is giving back to his community by sharing his passion for music with the purpose of inspiring children through the nonprofit organization he co-founded, Young Musicians Unite, which will hold its annual Spring Music Festival on May 25.

The concert will be at Racket, 150 NW 24th St., in Miami, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. May 25. Tickets can be purchased at YMUSpringshow.eventbrite.com.

“We have prepared an amazing night of performances by our talented young musicians who have been working hard all year to show off their musical accomplishments,” he said.

Founded in 2013, Young Musicians Unite provides music programming for more than 670 students through a diverse offering of music programs such as jazz bands, rock ensembles, guitar ensembles, music technology, beginning bands and drum lines. The organization receives grant funding from the Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs and the Children’s Trust.

“We are working to guarantee every student in Miami-Dade access to music education by partnering with schools to provide instruments, programs, resources, and all of the infrastructure needed to ensure strong and successful music programs,” Gonzalez wrote. “When music teachers receive support for their daily needs, they are empowered to focus on teaching and building relationships with their students.”

Raised in a single-parent home, Gonzalez enrolled in a free music program where he started to play the guitar in fifth grade. Music introduced him to mentors like the late Clark Douglas Burris, a legendary music teacher, who was a father figure to Gonzalez, guiding him through life. Gonzalez said without music he wouldn’t know where or who he would be today.

Not having a father growing up, music teachers were there for me and filled that void daily,” he said.

I needed to overcome many challenges in my life and achieve success,” said Gonzalez. “I credit my passion for community outreach and everything I’ve learned to these role models.”

The Spring Music Festival is the largest fundraiser for the organization. This year’s goal is $150,000. This will help expand the organization’s reach to 1,200 students across 17 public schools in Miami-Dade County and give them access to free music education for the 2019-2020 school year.

Students performing at the concert come from many cities and neighborhoods including Wynwood, Overtown, Little Haiti, Opa-Locka, Miami Gardens, Coral Gables and Miami Beach. Students range from 12 to 18 years old.

Dana Pezoldt, projects administrator for the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, said the program extends its hands to the youth.

“The Young Musicians Unite nonprofit organization public performances give students a chance to not only showcase their talents but also to gain experience of performing on stage and looking to possible future careers in music,” Pezoldt said.

Those who attend can anticipate various ensembles playing a broad range of music including jazz, rock, and drum line.

Just like music changed his own life, Gonzalez said his organization is helping the future through music.

“The chance to initiate music programs for students who have limited options fulfills our mission of providing youth development through music,” he said. “I believe that music is a vehicle to self-awareness and the development of leaders in our community. Due to budget cuts, it is unfortunate that music has been eliminated from many schools. Our goal is to find solutions in order to properly equip our students with the tools they need to impact our community as a whole.”

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