News Column

SLO High grad hopes to raise funds for music education

August 3, 2013


Aug. 03--A San Luis Obispo High School graduate is encouraging music lovers to give back to the community.

Garrett Philbin hopes to raise at least $30,000 for music education through sales of the charity album "Shuffle," released earlier this summer by East Midwest Music Group, the New York City-based company he founded with his friends. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

Philbin said that he and his business partners, Doug Larsen and Ben Lindell, created "Shuffle" as a way to acknowledge how school music programs have shaped their lives.

"Coming from that background, it ignited our passion in music," Philbin explained.

Philbin first discovered that passion in eighth grade choir at Laguna Middle School in San Luis Obispo.

While attending San Luis Obispo High, he honed his singing abilities under the direction of now-retired choral director Gary Lamprecht and his assistant director, Cricket Handler.

"It gave me confidence, first and foremost," Philbin said of his high school choral experience, while awakening him to his own potential. "Being in that choir exposed me to the opportunities that were available in music."

After graduating from San Luis Obispo High in 2004, Philbin studied music, marketing and business administration at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. That's where he met Larsen and Lindell.

The three co-founded EMW Music Group half a year ago.

Philbin, who currently works full-time in the copyright department of Sony Music Entertainment in New York City, envisions EMW Music Group as a "one-stop shop" for everything from artist development to marketing, music production and publishing.

Their debut album, "Shuffle," features 14 up-and-coming recording artists from across the globe, including "The Voice" standout Amanda Brown, Blackstreet R&B singer Lenny Harold, former Dream Street boy band member Matt Ballinger and actor, rapper and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Roshon Fegan

Thirteen of the 14 songs on "Shuffle," which came out June 4, were co-written by Larsen, Lindell and the artists, Philbin said. The only exception is rapper Gliffics' "Aim for the Sky," which features vocals by Harold.

More than 100 creative professionals donated their time to make the album, he added.

According to Philbin, 100 percent of "Shuffle" sales between now and Sept. 4 will go to VH1 Save the Music Foundation, which has donated $49.5 million worth of new musical instruments to 1,850 public schools since 1997.

For each $30,000 raised, the foundation provides instruments to jump-start a dormant elementary or middle school music program, he said.

To learn more about "Shuffle" or purchase a copy, visit


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