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  • Francesca Lee

Board Profile: John Botti

Since 2015, John Botti has played a major role in Bread & Roses mission of uplifting the human spirit by presenting free, live music and performing arts for people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society. In July of 2018, he took on an essential leadership role as Board Co-Chair. With the collaborative efforts of his fellow board members as well as Executive Director Dave Perron, he is devoted to supporting the organization's prosperity, vision and goals.

Brought up in a family of professional musicians, he recalls discovering the power of music in early childhood when he recognized the profound impact and difference music made in his life and those around him. Simply put, he says, "In many ways, the greatest gift we can give those in need is music and the reprieve, joy and solace it brings."

Growing up on the East Coast, his family lived in New York City and state, eventually moving to Long Island. Both parents were accomplished musicians. His mother was a violinist and his father was a bass player who performed in the NY Philharmonic Orchestra for fifty-one years.

Music was the centerpiece of their family life, so it was no surprise that John would also continue on with the family tradition of performing music on his own. At just eight-years-old he was already performing classical cello, which he pursued for many years.

At the age of fourteen, he received his very first guitar for Christmas. As fate would have it, the guitar became his preferred instrument to the dismay of his classical music-loving parents. This was no accident, as it was the beginning of his discovering his own authentic musical journey and also the strength it gave him during those developmental years. John explains," I understood the healing power of music from a very early age, when first listening to classical music with my parents from age five or six. As I listened to and played music while growing up, I had an even greater sense that it was the only thing that seemed to relieve me from the stress of being an adolescent."

In 1984, John started working on Wall Street and instantly fell in love with it. Eleven years later he started his own hedge fund with a partner and it was the most successful endeavor of his career. For many years John worked long, strenuous and often ridiculous hours. He remembers, "For the first ten years or so, I really did love mostly all of it but in many ways, it was like a full-contact sport. The need to be on and focused 24/7 wears on almost everyone over time." In December of 2010, he decided to focus on his family life with his wife Heather and daughter Emma Botti. The most important thing for him during that time was to be a part of his daughter’s life during her formative years. He has never looked back since then.

Today, John is committed to supporting his community and his dedication to Bread & Roses is one that he holds close to his heart. In addition to his work as a board member, he also ‘walks his talk’ by performing several Bread & Roses shows a year with his Jazz band Project BDZ at adult recovery centers and senior convalescent facilities. On one occasion while performing a Bread & Roses concert at a drug rehabilitation program, he remembers meeting a man who had been in prison for 25 years. The man was very moved by John's music and later reached out to John about teaching him guitar lessons. To this day they are good friends. John reflects, "Moments like these are very special."

Music is a strong force in the Botti household. Emma is an aspiring professional vocalist and songwriter and Bread & Roses volunteer who first started performing concerts for our isolated audiences when she was fifteen-years-old. He says, "I don't think she really understood the healing power of music until she started performing Bread & Roses shows…She was always amazed at the enthusiasm she received from the audience… I'm sure all of that contributed to her pursuing music as her career."

John believes that the magic of music can be embraced in all peoples’ lives for greater good and universal wellness. Bike rides along with playing, practicing and listening to music are among his favorite moments these days. With the current global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, John expresses these words of optimism and hope, "Music is the language of the soul and whether we like it or not this pandemic has been a time for all of us to be alone with ourselves as our hectic lives have crawled to a halt… Music is not only the voice of our souls but it speaks to our souls as well."

By Francesca Lee, Producer

Photo/Video Credits:

1) John Botti with Ron Artis II, the headliner of the 2019 Fall Benefit Concert. Photo by Peter Merts.

2) John Botti performing with his daughter Emma Botti at his house concert fundraiser for Bread & Roses in 2018. Photo by Marian Hubler.

3) John Botti with his wife Heather Hughes at the 2019 Spring Benefit Concert at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Photo by Ken Friedman.

4) Emma singing with her friends from Marin Academy at the house concert before she left for college. Photo by Marian Hubler.


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