The Country Music Association has earmarked $300,000 from its upcoming CMA Music Festival for the Nashville Alliance for Public Education. The money will be used to support music education activities for the city’s 73,000 public school students.
CMA board member Kix Brooks made the official announcement Wednesday (April 12) at the Nashville School of the Arts to an audience that included other artists and leaders of the music, business and education communities. Also at the gathering were Montgomery Gentry, Jimmy Mattingly of the Grascals, award-winning songwriter Skip Ewing and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.
Because all the participating artists perform free at the CMA Music Festival, the CMA has donated a portion of the proceeds to the artists’ designated charities since 2001. To date, those donations have amounted to over $800,000. This year, the more than 200 artists expected to perform have agreed that the Nashville Alliance for Public Education will be the preferred charity.
To demonstrate the kind of talent the donation will help fund, 16-year-old James DeSilva, an NSA student, opened the proceeds with an ornate classical guitar piece. Last year, the CMA donated $20,000 to the school’s guitar lab.
Taking the stage after DeSilva completed his performance, Brooks joked, “I was up ’til 1 a.m. teaching him that.” Brooks noted that he had visited the school’s guitar lab and added, “We didn’t have anything like that when I was in college.”
When it came time for Montgomery Gentry to speak, Troy Gentry recalled the joy of growing up playing saxophone in his junior high and high school bands. Eddie Montgomery said that because he came from a “honky-tonk family,” there were always guitars and drums around their house. He added that kids would often visit with him just to play the musical instruments.
Purcell said the CMA Music Festival has become the city’s “signature event” and one that is recognized around the world. He estimated the festival brings approximately $16 into the Nashville economy each year.