Derek was instrumental in building the Samba community in Portland. He inspired and taught many students who have gone on to have successful careers. He was infectiously passionate about including anyone and everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, and found ways to get instruments into their hands, often out of his own pocket.


He is mostly known to the world for his 18 years with Pink Martini, but to Portland he was a local hero in the music community, giving endlessly and tirelessly to helping others with their dreams. Ethos Music Center and Portland Public Schools are just two examples of benefiting from Derek's generous nature. He will not be forgotten, and the Project will carry on his legacy and his spirit.


"He was so brave. He would befriend all kinds of people at all times. Derek was in love with people. He was so committed to music. He was so committed to education. He loved to be a teacher."


Thomas M. Lauderdale

Pink Martini bandleader/pianist

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Free Beat Nation's mission is to make music education accessible to all youth. It provides full scholarships to all students, with the philosophy that by bringing both the served and underserved together it can help to break down economic, cultural, and social barriers.

Free Beat Nation’s commitment to equality and fairness creates connection, compassion, and empathy through one common goal and desire, “Making and performing music together. We struggle together. We strive together. We thrive together!”


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