"It means a lot because I'm from the area, but really what the CMA is doing -- the fact that they're donating $1.2 million specifically to music education -- is really fantastic," Middle Tennessee native Chris tells The Boot. "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."
That $1.2 million will be used to build music labs and purchase more than 4,000 instruments, as well as supplies, for 80 Metro Nashville Public Schools. The Keep the Music Playing program helps Music City's 78,000 public school students.
"Obviously, everyone is not going to take choir and get signed to a record deal, but the extra piece that it adds to their life is something you can never take back," Chris explains. "If you leave school and become an electrical engineer, you're still going to remember playing an instrument or singing in choir when you were in school. This program enables more people to have that and have it touch their lives. Music is something that touches everybody. It's one of the reasons I had the ability to go out and make a living playing shows."
Suzy Bogguss, who has taken her own initiative to promote music education with her album 'American Folks Songbook,' can't imagine her life with out music in school. "I have to give a lot of credit to my choir teachers," she tells The Boot. "People will tell me all the time, 'I never really listened to country music before, but I can understand every word you're singing.' That was really drilled into our heads as kids. If you're going to sing this song, tell the story and make sure people get the message. I go back to things my music teacher said to me all the time. I'm always going back to particular ways to sound a word or don't chew gum. [laughs]"
The CMA's Keep the Music Playing donation also includes $200,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 'Words & Music' program. This funding is used to assist language arts and music teachers with classroom instruction in the basics of songwriting.
For Suzy, the institution does a great job of educating and preserving history, but it's more about community. "The Hall of Fame is one of my favorite hangs," she explains. "I love to go in there, every single time I learn something new. I remember the first time my son went there with a class trip from school, he was like, 'I know him. I know him. He comes to our house.' [laughs] It was a realization that our community has a lot of music people. Probably, kids go in there and say, 'I saw him at the grocery store yesterday.' [laughs]"
Fans will have the opportunity to experience that same sense of community during the 2012 CMA Music Festival, which will be held in Music City June 7-10. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, the Band Perry, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and the Zac Brown Band have already been announced as performers. Get more information about the festival here.