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CMA Foundation "Music Education Matters" Initiative Taps Keith Urban as a National Ambassador

Urban Donates Guitars to Student Musicians in CMA Foundation Partner Programs

NASHVILLE – CMA and the CMA Foundation unveiled its new “Music Education Matters” campaign today during CMA Music Festival and announced that superstar Keith Urban will be the first national ambassador for the program, which provides musical instruments and teaching support to programs serving inner-city youth.

“Music is not only powerful, it’s magical,” said Urban. “It has the ability to bring people together, to inspire, calm, enhance creativity and intelligence, and to improve concentration. There is nothing like seeing the genesis of the relationship between an instrument and a child or young adult. I’m so honored and proud that the CMA Foundation has given us this opportunity to be a part of something that can have such a positive effect on so many young lives.”

Getting instruments into the hands of children is not just something that Urban has championed through the years, but is something he’s supporting with a personal donation. He is contributing 60 Keith Urban guitars complete with amplifiers, strings, and picks to five Music Education Matters partner programs across the country including programs in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, and San Francisco.

“Several of these programs have instruments that were provided by the Foundation, but thanks to Keith’s generosity some of our most ambitious and talented students will have a guitar to take home for practice and improving their skills,” said Ron Samuels, Chairman of the CMA Foundation Board of Directors. “This donation is life changing and central to our message that Music Education Matters.”

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Keith Urban performs with Nashville School of the Arts students Kelly Holmes (l) and Emily Davis during a special appearance on the CMA Close Up stage at AT&T U-verse Fan Fair X during CMA Music Festival Thursday in Nashville. Photo Credit: Donn Jones / CMA

“I am extremely grateful for Keith’s generosity and his commitment to advancing music education,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “I have witnessed the difference an instrument makes in the development of a child. Just imagine if someone hadn’t put a guitar in Keith Urban’s hands.”

Young performers from Metro Nashville Public Schools – one of the recipient programs – participated in the announcement at the AT&T U-verse® Fan Fair X in the Music City Center. Students from JFK Middle School and Antioch High School surprised Urban with a rendition of his hit, “Days Go By” and four, high school guitar students from Nashville School of the Arts joined Urban and his band for a performance of Urban’s new single “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.”

“I have witnessed first-hand the effect a musical instrument can make in the life of a student,” said Linda Friend, a Metro Music Specialist at John F. Kennedy Middle School. “Rex Yape, a 2014 graduate of Antioch High School, was first provided with recorders through CMA while just a young performer in the Antioch-based ‘Renaissance Kids.’ During his sophomore year, while auditioning on recorder for membership into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, one of the judges suggested that Rex might make a fine oboe player. On Monday morning of the next week a brand new CMA oboe was presented to Rex.  Rex used that oboe to audition for All-State and to play as a member of the Curb Youth Symphony. Rex has just completed his first year at the Curtis Institute of Music, undeniably one of the top music institutions in the world, and is looking forward to a career as a professional musician, something that would not have been possible without the generosity of CMA.”

The guitars will be distributed to five separate in-school and after-school programs including Notes for Notes, which constructs and operates recording studios in Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide. The CMA Foundation has funded studios in Atlanta, Austin, Brooklyn, Detroit, Nashville, and San Francisco, with plans to expand into other markets in 2016.

“Everyday youth in our studios are getting their hands on instruments but thanks to Keith we will be able to gift these guitars to our most dedicated players to take home and shred into their musical dreams,” said Phil Gilley, CEO/ Co-Founder Notes for Notes.

CMA Foundation partner programs that will be receiving guitars include:

Education Through Music: Education Through Music (ETM) partners with inner-city schools to provide all students with music as a core subject, and to create school communities that value the arts. In the 2014/2015 school year, ETM served 20,000 students and 40 teachers in 37 inner-city schools in New York City, and their model reaches another 8,000 children through the work of their licensed affiliate organization in Los Angeles.

Harmony Project: Harmony Project is a tuition free, after-school and weekend music program in Los Angeles that targets 2,000 at-risk students ages 6-18. Combining rigorous music instruction and enrichment activities, mentoring, family support services, and college scholarships, the program guides vulnerable youth through life’s challenges while building critical life skills that will serve them into adulthood.

Little Kids Rock (LKR): Little Kids Rock is a national nonprofit that provides an innovative music education program called Modern Band to more than 195,000 students in 29 cities. LKR leverages the shared cultural capital of students (and their teachers) by connecting learning to the music styles that kids already know and love including rock, pop, hip hop, and Country. LKR provides instruments, curriculum, teacher training, and ongoing support.

Metro Nashville Public Schools: Since 2006, CMA and the CMA Foundation have donated more than $9 million to support an unprecedented effort to strengthen and improve music education in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Through this unique partnership with Metro Schools and the Nashville Public Education Foundation, CMA has provided thousands of instruments, enabling the city to accelerate access to quality music education for all students.

Notes for Notes: Notes for Notes funds the construction of music studios in Boys and Girls Clubs and other facilities across the U.S. The CMA Foundation made an initial donation to the Nashville Notes for Notes chapter and committed additional funds to expand the program in several markets including Atlanta, Austin, Brooklyn, Detroit, and San Francisco.

The CMA Foundation receives the bulk of the funding to support these and other programs from CMA Music Festival. To date, CMA and the CMA Foundation have donated more than $11 million to this worthy cause on behalf of the artists who perform at CMA Music Festival for free.

The Foundation has made Music Education Matters its core initiative. Statistics show it is making a difference. Studies have proven that people who play instruments from childhood have above average general reasoning skills and verbal intelligence. Other studies indicated that learning music increases fine motor skills, enhanced hearing ability, and memory.

This means the skills acquired learning music give the child the foundation to succeed in other disciplines. For instance, the enhanced reasoning skills and verbal intelligence are the skills needed to excel in the language arts. The act of reading music is cognitively very similar to the act of reading words, so children who learn to read music at a young age generally read at a higher grade level than their peers.

Keith Urban’s seventh studio album FUSE, his fourth No. 1 album, marked the first time that a male Country artist has debuted atop the all-genre charts in the United States, Canada, and Australia. FUSE’s first single, “Little Bit of Everything” took the top spot on the Country Singles Chart, as did “We Were Us,” featuring Miranda Lambert, which gave Urban a streak of five consecutive No. 1 songs (dating back to 2011’s “Without You”).  In fact, with the release of FUSE’s fourth and fifth No. 1 singles, “Somewhere In My Car” and “Raise ‘Em Up,” Urban  extended his lead as the artist with the most consecutive Top 10 songs on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart, a streak which started in August of 2000. He was the first Country artist to be named an American Idol judge, a role he willreprise for the show’s 15th and final season.

Urban has long supported numerous charities. Amongst other things, he is an advisory board member at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and a longtime supporter of The Grammy Foundation. In 2013, he introduced his new URBAN™ Guitar Collection via HSN, proceeds of which went to benefit both the Grammy Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund. The offering resulted in the largest guitar debut ever for the entertainment/lifestyle retailer, selling out in a matter of hours. In 2014 his second offering, for his URBAN™ Guitar Collection via HSN, broke that record. His annual “All For The Hall” benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum© has raised nearly $2.5 million.

CMA created the nonprofit (501C3) CMA Foundation in 2011. Guided by the generosity of the Country Music community, the CMA Foundation focuses on improving and sustaining music education programs everywhere while supporting worthwhile causes important to the Country Music Association.

**Suggested Tweet**: The #CMAfoundation announces @KeithUrban as #MusicEducationMatters ambassador after performing w/ Nashville students at #CMAfest!

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