Mill Valley local Sara Wasserman is not only the founder of Music Heals International—she is also the daughter of the world-famous bassist, Rob Wasserman.
In honor of her father and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Music Heals International, Wasserman is hosting an all-things-bass fundraising concert on Monday, Nov. 20 at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. The lineup of this philanthropic event includes performances from eight-time Grammy winning bassist Christian McBride, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, DJ Logic, Paul Beaubrun of Arcade Fire and Jay Lane, the drummer from Dead & Co.
“It’s our 10th anniversary, and so we have a really unique and special show in store,” Wasserman said. “Our shows are amazing collaborations that really only happen one time…and since this is the 10th, I’m expecting it to be nothing less than really beautiful—especially since this is a tribute to my dad.”
Wasserman always had an inherent understanding of the importance of music. And by her early 20s, she took to the stage as a professional singer.
But in 2012, Wasserman’s singing career was unexpectedly redirected when a longtime friend of the family, Sean Penn, reached out with an invitation that would change the course of not only Wasserman’s life, but many others as well.
Penn’s proposition was to travel to Haiti, specifically Delmas 32 in Port-au-Prince, where some of the most significant damage of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake took place, and teach music. Wasserman accepted the invitation and, along with Lukas Nelson—Willie Nelson’s son—she packed her bags and set out to teach music to the children of Haiti.
“We ended up spending 10 days in Haiti, and it was a powerful, intense and life-changing trip,” said Wasserman. “Being thrown into this community of people…I had never seen a world with that extreme level of poverty, and the way that they live—it’s hard to put into words unless you’ve seen it.”
Following the initial 10-day visit to Haiti, Wasserman knew that she had to do something more for the children of Delmas 32. And so, the idea for Music Heals International was born.
“For me, it was this light that went off, and I realized I couldn’t not do anything,” Wasserman said. “And seeing the reaction of the kids and the community and the teachers and everybody we were working with, plus seeing the power of just the few music classes we were teaching…I was like, ‘How do I make this happen?’”
In 2013, Music Heals International began in Haiti with two schools and 60 students. One decade later and in partnership with J/P HRO (now CORE), co-founded by Sean Penn and Little Kids Rock (now MusicWill), Wasserman’s nonprofit spans three countries, 10 schools and over 1,500 total students.
“I have so much appreciation for the endless support this community has given us, especially from the artists of the Bay Area, where I was born, where my dad was born…” Wasserman concluded. “The support we get from everybody…is just incredible, and we’re just really grateful for those who continue to support us every year.”
To learn more about Music Heals International or to show support through a donation, visit mhinternational.org. Sweetwater Music Hall is located at 19 Corte Madera Ave. in Mill Valley. For the Nov. 20 concert time and tickets, go to sweetwatermusichall.com.