The CMA Foundation donated $1.2 million to benefit music education programs for Nashville’s 81,000 public school students from 2012 CMA Music Festival through the Keep the Music Playing campaign at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Tuesday night, with help from CMA Award nominee Scotty McCreery.
According to a Feb. 20 announcement from CMA reps, this latest donation raises CMA’s Keep the Music Playing support of music education in Metro Schools from $5.3 million to more than $6.5 million.
To date, the money has been used to build music labs and purchase instruments and supplies for all of Metro Nashville's 144 schools through a partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation.
“Providing instruments for every Metro school is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Steve Moore, CMA's chief executive officer, in an email correspondence to Examiner.com.
“When we started this program in 2006, instruments in Metro band programs were more than 30 years old -- if they were lucky enough to have them at all," he continued. "Seeing what this program has accomplished on behalf of our artists is extremely gratifying. Keep the Music Playing is making a difference by helping to make quality music education a reality for our children.”
News of the 2012 CMA Music Festival donation was shared during a Feb. 19 reception prior to the Fourth Annual CMA Keep the Music Playing All Stars Concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The All Stars Concert honors the best elementary-, middle- and high -chool performance groups selected from Metro Schools.
Hit-maker McCreery served as host for the concert and was on hand for the donation announcement, which was attended by band directors and music teachers from Metro Schools, as well as representatives from The CMA Foundation, CMA Board of Directors, Music City Music Council and the Nashville Public Education Foundation.
Famous for winning "American Idol" in 2011 before he graduated high school, McCreery said he understands the importance of music education. In addition to hosting the CMA All Stars Concert, McCreery performed “The River” (made famous by Garth Brooks), with students from Sylvan Park Elementary School.
“When I was in high school in North Carolina, I was very involved in the school’s music program which provided the foundation that inspired my music career today,” McCreery told those in attendance at the concert event. “And as a proud performer at the past two CMA Music Festivals, it’s an honor to represent CMA’s Keep the Music Playing, a program that gives back to schools in such a big way.
"Hosting the All Stars Concert and performing with the students of Sylvan Park Elementary has been an unforgettable experience," he added, "and I’m glad I was able to share the stage with such talented young people.”
McCreery was the youngest male winner of "American Idol," as well as the show's first country male star. His first studio album, "Clear As Day," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts, making him the youngest male in history to open at the top of the all-genre chart with a debut release.
The project also garnered the highest sales of any country solo album released in 2011, held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for six weeks and earned platinum status in just 13 weeks. His hits include “The Trouble With Girls,” “Water Tower Town” and “I Love You This Big.” His first headlining tour, “Weekend Roadtrip,” kicked off Feb. 14.
Amid a budding career, McCreery is also pursuing an undergraduate degree at North Carolina State University. He grew up singing in church in the Raleigh satellite community of Garner, N.C. He led a praise-and-worship group called Audience of One. He also sang with an advanced high-school chorale group called Die Meistersingers. It required him to sight-read music, perform classical pieces and compete with similar groups on a national level.
In 2006, the CMA Artist Relations Committee established the Keep the Music Playing program to give back to the community on behalf of the hundreds of country artists who perform and make appearances at CMA Music Festival each year for free.
Per the CMA, studies suggest students who participate in the arts are more likely to graduate. Metro’s performing arts students have a 96 percent graduation rate compared to 78.4 percent for the general population. Sixty percent of Metro students are involved in music education classes, including 100 percent of elementary school students.
- Multi-media bonus: To see a "flashback" interview with Scotty McCreery following his 2011 "American Idol" win, please access the clip embedded with this post. And to see photos from this year's Keep the Music Playing All Stars event on Feb. 19, please access the slideshow embedded herein.