LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A music legend is coming to Southwest Florida, and he's bringing along his passion for learning the arts. Barry Manilow will be at Germain Arena next week on Friday, January 24th, but first, he's helping Lee County schools.
WINK News spoke to Manilow Monday morning as he kicked off his local instrument drive with the Manilow Music Project. He started the project eight years ago, conducting drives in nearly every city where he hosts concerts.
"We've been collecting between 75 and 100 instruments in every city that we go to," said Manilow.
Now, the legendary singer-songwriter is asking the public to donate new and gently-used instruments to Lee County schools, to go to local music classrooms across the school district. Donations will be collected at the Germain Arena Capital Bank Box Office through January 24th, anytime from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. For donating, you'll receive two free tickets to Manilow's concert on January 24th.
"I thought, I've got to do something, when I found out they're cutting music and arts classes in a lot of schools. But even the schools that do have music classes, they're running out of instruments because of budget problems," he tells WINK News. "I said well maybe I can give them a hand."
Manilow said he's seen how emphasizing the arts has helped students with other subjects, such as math and science, and he's hoping new instruments will give Lee County schools a musical upper hand.
"Every principal that I talk to tells me that when kids are enjoying the music classes, their grades go up, they become better students, they become better people," he said. "Personally, I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't joined that orchestra class in Brooklyn when I was younger."
Manilow's performance at Germain Arena is one of eight across Florida on his current tour, and he said he's looking forward to the Fort Myers show.
"The audiences in Florida have always been fantastic for me, always," said Manilow.