The CMA Foundation donated $1 million to benefit music education programs for Nashville public school students from 2013 CMA Music Festival through the Keep the Music Playing campaign at the new CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame tonight.


The CMA Foundation donated $1 million to benefit music education programs for Nashville public school students from 2013 CMA Music Festival through the Keep the Music Playing campaign at the new CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame tonight.

The announcement raises CMA’s support of music education in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools from $6.5 million to more than $7.5 million. This money has been used to build music labs and purchase instruments and supplies for all Metro Schools through a partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation.

“CMA is extremely proud of being able to provide access to instruments for every child in Metro Schools on behalf of our artist community,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “A thriving music education program is an investment in the future and provides important motivation to keep children engaged and in school.”

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.

The announcement of the 2013 CMA Music Festival donation was made at a reception prior to the Fifth Annual CMA Keep the Music Playing All Stars Concert at the new CMA Theater. The All Stars Concert honors exemplary elementary, middle, and high school performance groups selected from the district.

CMA Awards nominee and EMI Records Nashville recording artist Eric Paslay hosted 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, the Nashville Public Education Foundation, and Music Makes Us Advisory Council.

Paslay has written No. 1 hits for Jake Owen, Love and Theft, and the Eli Young Band. His single “Friday Night” is in the Top 5 and his self-titled debut album will be released on February 4. In addition to hosting the concert, Paslay performed a song from his album, “Less Than Whole,” with guitar students from Nashville School of the Arts.

“What an incredible night! I am so honored that I was able to be part of such a special night for CMA and music education through the Keep the Music Playing program,” Paslay said. “Performing with the students from the Nashville School of the Arts was amazing and I am in awe of their talents. I look forward to helping CMA continue to raise money and awareness for this empowering program for years to come.”

“This program wouldn’t even exist without the Country Music artists who make this gift possible,” said Joe Galante, Chairman of The CMA Foundation Board of Directors. “With the right tools and instruction from our music educators, we’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of the Keep the Music Playing program on students’ academic success. The results are impressive.”

CMA created the nonprofit (501C3) The CMA Foundation in 2011. The Foundation exists to provide financial support to worthwhile causes that are important to CMA and the Country Music community. The group places special emphasis on serving the needs of CMA’s core constituents and nonprofit organizations with initiatives that preserve the legacy of the format, support music education, and respond to other needs identified by CMA.

To date, Keep the Music Playing funds have been used to purchase approximately 6,600 instruments – reaching all zoned and magnet K-12 Metro Schools. According to findings from the Metro Schools’ Prelude research study, it is an investment worth pursuing.

Metro students participating in more than one year of music are seven percent more likely to come to school each day; earn a 15 percent higher grade point average; and are 52 percent more likely to graduate from high school on time than students who aren’t involved in music classes. A fine-tuned music education program also provides students access to potential college scholarships so they can further their education and earn advanced degrees.

In addition to Galante, the Mayor of Nashville, the Honorable Karl Dean, Metro Nashville Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Jay Steele, and Nashville Public Education Foundation President Shannon Hunt participated in the donation announcement.

“It is my honor to represent the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools at the CMA All Stars Concert,” said Steele. “The Country Music Association is a valued partner with MNPS and through CMA’s generosity, thousands of students’ lives are enriched with music and performance opportunities every day. This partnership truly ‘Keeps the Music Playing’ in Nashville’s public schools.”

The 2013-2014 Keep the Music Playing All Stars are selected by Metro Schools Coordinator of Performing Arts Dr. Nola Jones and include Hillwood High School Wind Ensemble; Hull-Jackson Montessori Strings; Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet String Orchestra; John F. Kennedy Middle School Choir and Concert Band; and the McGavock High School Capital Sounds Show Choir.

“The CMA All Stars Concert is an annual highlight for our music students and teachers,” Jones said. “This year’s concert is especially thrilling for all in the new CMA Theater venue. Without the continued generosity of the Country Music Association, so many of Nashville’s uniquely rich musical experiences would not be available to our students. We are very grateful for this opportunity to celebrate our students’ musical achievements with performances by five of Metro Schools’ most outstanding ensembles.”

With this donation, the total figure for the Keep the Music Playing program surpasses $8.9 million.

This figure includes a recent $18,000 grant to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) to support the Disney Musicals in Schools program, which is the Disney Theatrical Group’s first in-school outreach project outside of New York City; a $1 million endowment gift for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Words & Music” program, which assists language arts and music teachers with classroom instruction in the basics of songwriting; support of the W.O. Smith summer camp programs; and an instrument donation to P.S. 103, the Hector Fontanez School in the Bronx, NY.

2014 CMA Music Festival will be held Thursday through Sunday, June 5-8.

Chevrolet™ is the Official Ride of Country Music. Bud Light is the Official Beer of the CMA Music Festival. Pepsi is the Official Soft Drink of the CMA Music Festival. American Airlines is the Official Airline of CMA Music Festival. Bad Boy Buggies are the Official UTV of the CMA Music Festival.

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