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Chuck Surack Wins Prestigious Don Johnson Award

Chuck Surack has received the Don Johnson Industry Service Award
(left to right): Musical Merchandise Review President Terry Lowe and Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack.

Sweetwater Founder and President Chuck Surack has received the Don Johnson Industry Service Award in recognition of his support for, and advocacy of, music education. The award was presented to Mr. Surack at the national convention of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), in Anaheim, CA, on Saturday, January 27, during NAMM’s annual “Support Music Session.”

Past winners include Dave Teeple, Felice Mancini, Keith Mardak, George Quinlan and George Quinlan Jr., John D’Addario Jr. and Jim D’Addario, Mary Luehrsen, Steve West, and Susan and Jonathan Lipp.

The Don Johnson Industry Service Award was established 10 years ago by Musical Merchandise Review Magazine. The magazine’s January issue features a cover story about the award, with an extended interview with Mr. Surack.

MMR editor Christian Wissmuller wrote, “The goal and spirit of the Don Johnson Award are well expressed on the trophy, itself: “In Recognition and Appreciation for Outstanding Advocacy and Support for Music Education at the Community and National Level.” In other words, we look to honor folks in our industry who go beyond simply running a good and successful retail or MI supplier business, but who care passionately about the culture of music-making and how it benefits individuals, families, and communities – basically, good men and women from all/any corners of the music industry who embody the best attributes of our industry. Chuck Surack is unquestionably one of those individuals.

During the NAMM ceremony Surack remarked, “Supporting music education means creating access, options, and jobs. We want kids to have more access to instruments, more options in the kinds of music they play, and, finally, to be able to learn the skills that will help guarantee them a job in the music industry when they graduate from college.

“We hope,” he added, “that others will join us in supporting music education in any way they can, through the gifts of time, talent, dollars, or musical instruments.”

Surack made three major contributions to music education just in the last six months, including a $500,000 grant to the Fort Wayne Community School District to purchase instruments for students whose families can’t afford to rent or buy instruments. Sweetwater became the national sponsor of the Little Kids Rock Foundation, which provides free instruments and a “Modern Band” curriculum to hundreds of schools across the country. Most recently, a partnership was announced with the new Purdue School of Music in Fort Wayne, which provides for the creation of an 8,000 square foot facility on the Sweetwater campus, housing studios and classrooms for the school’s music technology degree program. The Suracks are donating $1.5 million in addition to fronting, interest free, the $1.6 million required to build the learning facility.

Surack concluded: “I accept this on behalf of my lovely wife Lisa, who is very much my partner in deciding what causes to support, as well as our almost 1,300 Sweetwater employees, the vast majority of whom are also musicians, and without whom none of this would be possible.”