singer/songwriter/producer Bonnie Hayes joins San Fran nonprofit

Article Contributed by Shore Fire Media | Published on Monday, December 13, 2021

Blue Bear School of Music, San Francisco’s preeminent school for rock, blues, jazz, folk, and pop, today unveils its plans for a momentous 2022, including community expansion, new programming, and staffing updates. Following the nonprofit’s 50th-anniversary, celebrated singer/songwriter, Bonnie Hayes, announces she will return to the school as the Executive Director at Blue Bear’s new East Bay Campus, slated to open in September, 2022.

The announcement follows Hayes’ seven-year stint as the Chair of the Songwriting Department at Berklee School of Music.

“I am thrilled to be returning to Blue Bear to establish their East Bay campus,” says Hayes. “Blue Bear is where I came of age as a musician, and I then had the opportunity to build the curriculum for a variety of their programs. Blue Bear reaches hundreds of at-risk kids each year with free music programs, and I look forward to helping expand their reach.”

Bonnie Hayes is a singer/songwriter, musician, record producer and educator. She wrote two songs on Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy Album of the Year Nick of Time, and her songs have been recorded by Cher, Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Adam Ant and Booker T and the MG’s.

Blue Bear is also planning a partnership with Mission Bay’s Mercy Housing, a national developer of affordable housing, offering free music programming to Mercy Housing residents and other low-income housing tenants in the neighborhood.  

Also of particular note, in the age of the pandemic, is Blue Bear’s commitment not only to at-risk youth and communities but to its teaching artists.  

Professional musicians have been amongst the hardest hit vocations. Even now, as venues have started to reopen, there are significantly fewer opportunities for musicians to earn a living. For 50 years, Blue Bear has provided a stable income for professional musicians. Over 300 teaching artists have benefited from their work at Blue Bear and over 30 professionals currently have dependable income from teaching at the Bear.

Thanks to its supporters, Blue Bear can continue to provide a safe place for people of all ages, skill levels, and economic backgrounds to play the music they love. This month the school will also kick off its annual Feed the Bear fundraiser, which fuels the school’s extensive outreach programming. Breakdown of funding potential below:

    $100 funds one hour of music instruction at a school or community center.
    $350 buys one music kit that can be used to run programming at a homeless shelter.
    $500 sends one kid with financial need to a week-long music summer camp at the Bear.
    $1,000 helps fund one complete 12-week music program.
    $3,000 fully funds 12 weeks of Blue Bear programming at a school or community center.
    $12,000 funds a community outreach site for an entire year!
    $20,000 funds a mobile laptop-based digital audio program to be used in underserved areas of our community outreach program!
    $24,000 funds a “Music & Coding” class at a San Francisco elementary school for a year!

Learn more about Feed the Bear, visit here:

To date, Blue Bear has taught over 40,000 students. Currently, the school teaches around 850 per quarter. In addition, through 62 community partnerships, the school has enrolled 4,000 kids in free classes. It offers free music education courses in local schools, community centers, churches, and family shelters. With 300 teaching musicians in its history, Blue Bear’s range of courses has grown to include electronic music, DJing, and the Little Bears program for toddlers.

Blue Bear is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; all donations made are tax-deductible as permitted by law. More information is available at