Smithsonian To Honor Sting and J. Ralph Sept. 8 for Contributions to American Music Including Their Oscar-Nominated Song “The Empty Chair”

Evening To Include a Discussion of Philanthropy and a Performance Event Benefits the National Museum of American History’s Culture and Arts Programs
September 8, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will acquire objects from world-renowned musician Sting and American composer J. Ralph in a special donation ceremony Sept. 8. Prolific singer-songwriter Sting will donate the 1978 Fender Stratocaster guitar that he played at Amnesty International’s “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball” in 1981 and throughout his first world tour as a solo artist. J. Ralph will donate original sheet music, lyrics and recordings for “Evolocean” and the Oscar-nominated song “The Empty Chair,” co-written by Sting.

Sting and J. Ralph recently collaborated on “The Empty Chair,” an evocative song written for the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story, about American photojournalist James “Jim” Foley who was kidnapped in Syria and went missing for two years before his tragic death sent shockwaves around the globe. The song’s Academy Award nomination added to the list of Oscar nods received by each musician.

Sting, a founder and lead singer of the group The Police as well as a celebrated solo artist, has garnered many accolades, including 16 Grammy Awards, four Brits and four Oscar nominations. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Sting has sold close to 100 million albums during the course of his illustrious career. He contributes to many charitable organizations and is the co-founder of the Rainforest Fund with his wife Trudie Styler. He developed a passion for philanthropy very early in his career and has devoted much of his life to the betterment of humanity and the world.

J. Ralph is a three-time Academy Award-nominated composer, producer, songwriter and social activist from New York City who focuses on creating awareness and change through music and film.  He has written groundbreaking scores for various documentaries, including eight of the Oscar-winning or -nominated documentaries in the past decade. His music has sold more than 10 million records worldwide and topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts in over 22 countries. The event features the world premiere of his transformative Aleatoric piece “Evolocean” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Voices Choir and his 6-month-old daughter Theodora Ralph. The primary focus of the piece is to raise awareness and funding for species extinction and oceanic preservation.

The special donation ceremony precedes a discussion of philanthropy moderated by Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and a performance by Sting plus the world premiere of J. Ralph’s symphonic piece “Evolocean” in the museum’s Warner Brothers Theater. Sting will perform the song “The Empty Chair.” The program is designed to highlight the artists’ musical and philanthropic contributions to American music and culture.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W. Admission is free. For more information, visit For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

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