We Are Guitar

Lead Guitar’s interactive YouTube broadcast We Are Guitar connects students with guitar luminaries to talk, learn, and jam together before a worldwide audience of enthusiasts. It is an inclusive show in every sense, welcoming music and musicians of all traditions and celebrating hard-working students of all abilities.

The show is recorded on location at Guitar Salon International in Santa Monica, CA and features a virtual guitar ensemble with as many as 250 students playing alongside Guest Artists like:
  • Carlos Rafael Rivera – two-time Emmy-winning composer (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Emily Elbert – guitarist with Jacob Collier, Gwen Stefani, Lorde and Esperanza Spalding
  • Curt Chambers – Grammy-winning singer/songwriter (Alicia Keys, Dr. Dre and Eminem)
Below is an archive of We Are Guitar episodes beginning with the most recent and going back to the original, low-tech show from April, 2020, which was created as an outlet for students stuck at home during the pandemic.
Above: A Lead Guitar student Maya V. meets with guitarist and composer Mia Garcia on We Are Guitar Episode 5.

We Are Guitar Episode 8

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The episode of We Are Guitar features singer, arranger, guitarist, and pianist Debbii Dawson, who recently rose to national fame on America's Got Talent with her hit arrangement of "Dancing Queen" by Abba. This episode will feature Debbii Dawson’s arrangement of the uplifting classic “You Are My Sunshine” played and sung along with our students!

Hosted by Guitar Salon International Foundation on the GSI YouTube Channel.

Featured Ensembles: Camelback High School (Phoenix), directed by Cory Collins; PUC eCALS High School (Los Angeles), directed by Drew Jorgensen; Marine Leadership Academy (Chicago), directed by Matthew Tatlock

Featured Student Soloists: Jamarion (Phoenix), Isaiah (Chicago), Alan (Phoenix), Andrew (Phoenix), Abram (Tucson), Xavier (Chicago), Isiah (Tucson)

We Are Guitar Episode 7

Monday, May 23, 2022

The episode of We Are Guitar features guitarist Emily Elbert—master of a broad range of styles including country, rock, and soul- who has played with such artists as Lorde and Jacob Collier, and opened for Harry Styles on tour. The show includes a play-along of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train" with Emily Elbert.​

Featured ensembles: Victoria Soto High School Guitar Ensemble (Chicago), conducted by Francisco Silva; M.D. Roberts School of the Arts Middle School (Atlanta), conducted by Michael Pla; Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School (Los Angeles), led by Rosemary Gutierrez

Featured student soloists: Nadya (Chicago), Jesus (Chicago), Byrdee (Tucson), Maria (Chicago), Mic (Basalt), Leo (Chicago), Owen (Basalt)

We Are Guitar Episode 6

December 15, 2021

This episode of We Are Guitar, hosted by Lead Guitar and GSI Foundation, features an interview with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Curt Chambers (guitarist for Alicia Keys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and more). The show includes a play-along of 12-Bar Blues with Curt Chambers and a mini-masterclass with Professor Denis Azabagić.

Featured ensemble: Maryvale High School’s Touring Guitar Ensemble led by Ruben Macias (Phoenix, AZ)

Featured student soloist: Javon S. (Chicago)

We Are Guitar Episode 5

May 19, 2021

This episode of We Are Guitar, hosted by Lead Guitar and GSI Foundation, features an interview with guitarist, composer Mia Garcia and a performance by the USC Guitar Orchestra led by William Kanengiser. The show includes a play-along of Greensleeves with Mia Garcia and a mini-masterclass with Professor Denis Azabagić.

Featured ensemble: USC Guitar Orchestra led by William Kanengiser

Featured student soloist: Maya V. (Basalt High School - Basalt, CO), D’Addario Foundation scholarship winner)

We Are Guitar Episode 4

March 2, 2021

This episode of We Are Guitar, hosted by Lead Guitar and GSI Foundation, features an interview with Carlos Rafael Rivera – Emmy-winning composer of the scores for The Queen’s Gambit and Godless. The show includes an exclusive performance of Carlos’ “Cancion” arranged for classical guitar orchestra and performed by Carlos and Lead Guitar students around the country and a mini-masterclass with Professor Denis Azabagić. Have your guitar at the ready and enjoy this interactive celebration with classical guitar students and enthusiasts around the world.

Featured ensemble: Austin Classical Guitar Youth Orchestra led by Joe Williams

Featured student soloist: Jesus Macaklin (Victoria Soto High School - Chicago, IL) and Michael Webster (Maryvale High School - Phoenix, AZ)

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

We Are Guitar Episode 3

December 15, 2020

This episode of We Are Guitar, hosted by Lead Guitar, GSI Foundation and Córdoba Guitars, features an interview with Molly Miller, the guitarist for Jason Mraz and Black-Eyed Peas. The show includes an exclusive performance of the hit song “Making it Up” by Jason Mraz, arranged for classical guitar orchestra and performed by Molly and Lead Guitar students around the country and a mini-masterclass with Professor Denis Azabagić. Have your guitar at the ready and enjoy this interactive celebration with classical guitar students and enthusiasts around the world.

Featured ensemble: Guitar Foundation of America Youth Ensemble led by Chuck Hulihan

Featured student soloists: Andrew Adams (Camelback High School - Phoenix, AZ), Mali Sparhawk (Carbondale Middle School - Carbondale, IL)

Lead Guitar Virtual Showcase II

May 23, 2020

The 2nd Lead Guitar Virtual Showcase hosted by the GSI Foundation and Córdoba Guitars features an interview with Zach Filkins of OneRepublic and an exclusive rendition and play-along of the hit song “Counting Stars” for classical guitar orchestra. Also included are play-along ensembles of music by Bach and Bob Marley as well as technique tips from Professor Denis Azabagić. Have your guitar at the ready and enjoy this interactive celebration with classical guitar students and enthusiasts around the world.

Featured student soloists: Spencer Wimmer (City High School - Tucson, AZ), Leilah Castro (Maurice Sendak Elementary ACT Magnet - Los Angeles, CA)
Zach Filkins of OneRepublic playing “Counting Stars” alongside Lead Guitar students
Lead Guitar Orchestra playing “Minuet in G minor” by Christian Petzold
Lead Guitar Orchestra playing “Minuet in G minor” by Christian Petzold
June 27th, 2020: On the occasion of the Lead Guitar Virtual Showcase, GSI Foundation donated over 50 Córdoba C3M guitars to children from Lead Guitar programs stuck at home during the pandemic without a guitar to practice.

Do you have a guitar you wish to donate? Support us

Don’t have a guitar but still want to help? We also accept cash donations. Help us provide music education to children in public schools.

Lead Guitar Virtual Showcase I

April 25, 2020

Three globe-trotting guest artists and their hosts are sharing their mastery of classical, finger-style, rock, pop, and Latin guitar to bring the guitar community together for a great cause:
  • Sergio Vallín – versatile, virtuoso guitarist from Maná - 4-Time GRAMMY, 8-time Latin GRAMMY and 15-time MTV Video Music awardees
  • Sérgio Assad – arguably among the most impactful classical guitarists and guitar composers of the last 100 years - he rose to prominence as part of the legendary Assad Brothers Duo which the Washington Post dubbed, “the best two-guitar team in existence, maybe even in history”
  • Alex De Grassi – The Wall Street Journal has called his playing “flawless” and his early Windham Hill recordings influenced a whole generation of young players including Lead Guitar founder Brad Richter.
Sergio Vallín of Maná playing “Oye Como Va” by Carlos Santana alongside Lead Guitar students
Lead Guitar Orchestra playing “Minuet in G minor” by Christian Petzold