On Tuesday night, country music star Chris Young helped the Country Music Association donate $1.4 million to school music programs in Nashville, TN. The donation was made possible in part by the proceeds from Young’s performance at this year’s CMA Music Festival, which went to benefit their “Keep the Music Playing” campaign. The initiative works to strengthen music programs in Music City’s schools.
The good news was announced on Tuesday night by Young and fellow performer Suzy Bogguss before the third annual CMA Keep the Music Playing All Stars Concert. During the show, Young and Bogguss shared the stage with a few lucky students who have benefited from the program; Young sang his hit “You” and Bogguss was joined by a choir from Glengarry Elementary School to sing two songs from her latest project, “American Folk Songbook.”
Both artists emphasized their connections to and belief in the program’s efforts. Young, for example, is a Tennessee native and grew up on the state’s school music programs. In an interview with Tennessee blog The Boot, Young said, “There are a lot of kids who will be exposed to things that they might never have been exposed to had this money not been there to help supplement and support them. When I was in school, I found out a lot about music that I would never have found outside on my own.”
Bogguss told The Tennessean that these programs benefit all students, even those who don’t want to pursue music as a career, saying, “What I’ve noticed … is it’s almost like children (who haven’t been exposed to music programs) think they have to perform to enjoy singing and participate in music. But music is not just for people who are going to go on and have a career in it. It’s good for you. It’s a release and it’s joyful, and it’s a shame some kids don’t get that opportunity.”
Since 2006, the “Keep the Music Playing” campaign has donated a total of $6.1 million to the area’s music education programs. This year’s donation will help buy instruments and supplies and to build music labs in 80 of Nashville’s public schools, benefiting an estimated 78,000 Nashville students. On top of its donation to the schools, CMA also gave $200,000 to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Words and Music program, which assists music teachers to both compose and teach.
The work for next year has already begun. The 2012 CMA Music Festival is scheduled for June 7-10 in Nashville and will include performances from Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, and Rascal Flatts, among others. With a line-up like that, next year’s donation could be one of the biggest yet.