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What Is The GroundUP Music Foundation?

Who We Are

The 501c3 non-profit GroundUP Music Foundation curates and assembles exceptional musicians at all career stages, with great cultural diversity from all over the globe, and provides them with funding, time, and opportunities to experiment, take risks, and work with each other and with students to create collaborations that take on a life of their own, resulting in continued creative partnerships. The Foundation was born out of the annual GroundUP Music Festival, a music & education festival that produces the highest level music programs while creating free opportunities for local underserved students as well as other musicians and students with these diverse renowned artists.


GroundUP brings together a globally diverse artist community to create accessibility and exposure for all types of musical artistry, producing exceptional and unique music performances and educational programs online and at its festivals. GroundUP breaks down the barriers and connects musicians at every stage to inspire and embrace artistic talent. With culturally and ethnically diverse artists from more than 40 countries, the Festival (which is the flagship event for the Foundation), attracts thousands of people from 48 states and 54 countries, providing a global audience and exposure for artists at every level.


GroundUP provides a platform that complements the important work done by our many local partners and others that provide music education to students. It uses its massive festival and online education platforms to create free and priceless opportunities for local underserved and other students and musicians at every career stage with GroundUP’s world-renowned artists (which have included Snarky Puppy, Michael McDonald, David Crosby, The Wood Brothers, Lila Downs, Buena Vista Social Club, Béla Fleck, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Robert Glasper, Lettuce, Tank & The Bangas, Christian Scott, Chris Potter, Lalah Hathaway, Buika, and many more). 

Our Mission

The GroundUP Music Foundation supports up-and-coming as well as established musicians through performance and other opportunities, and provides educational opportunities and resources including masterclasses and workshops, mentorships, clinics, and side by side teaching and performance and training opportunities to underserved and other students and supporters, through its annual GroundUP Music Festivals and other in-person and online programs.  

Our Values

Co-founded by Miami-native and veteran arts leader Paul T. Lehr and Snarky Puppy bandleader Michael League, we support the musical development of students and artists from the Ground Up: 



Capitalizing on its reputation and the draw of this compelling artistry, GroundUP attracts an equally diverse audience from South Florida and around the world, thus helping to create the continued audience needed to support artists’ music creation. The flagship event was one of music’s “10 Definitive Moments of the Decade” per The New York Times.



Rather than supporting musicians based on popularity and the size of their social media platforms which generally translates to more revenue, GroundUP, from its inception, has focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We support musicians from South Florida and around the globe who have not only the highest caliber of artistry, but who also bring rich cultural, musical, and ethnic diversity and perspectives with an authentic interest in mentoring and working with students and fellow artists as well as giving back to our South Florida community.  Our artists have come from:  Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, France, Ghana, Greece, Guadeloupe, Holland, Israel, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States (Florida and almost every other state), and Venezuela.  The students and audience participating are similarly diverse, coming from all over South Florida as well as from 48 states and 54 countries.  Highlighting musicians with diverse perspectives, musical backgrounds and lived experiences, GroundUP provides for a rich, global education for all participants.  The sense of joy as all learn about and celebrate the artistic and cultural differences and their shared sense of humanity through music is palpable.  As this varied group of musicians and participants congregates during our festivals and in our online programs, they not only celebrate but also learn from each other's rich and diverse musical backgrounds and perspectives and create a global community of openness, acceptance and belonging that gives us a glimpse into what human relations should aspire. 


GROUNDUP = FREE & PRICELESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOUTH FLORIDA STUDENTS & MUSICIANS:  There is important work being done by several organizations that provide music education to South Florida students from their exceptional local musician teachers.  As an addition and complement to this work, GroundUP offers free programming to these students and teachers, as well as performance opportunities to students, teachers, and other up and coming local musicians, with GroundUP’s world-renowned artists.  GroundUP has worked with and provided opportunities for students, teachers, and musicians from many local partners including Young Musician’s Unite, Live Modern School of Music, Frost School of Music, Guitars Over Guns, Wynwood School of Music, Miami Arts Charter, New World School of the Arts, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and others.  The inspiration from and connection with these renowned artists through the free masterclasses, workshops, side-by-side trainings, performance opportunities, and other mentorship and connections created, are not just inspirational, but often transformational.  

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