NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Country Music Association is helping thousands of students learn music in school to the tune of $1.4 million.
The organization donated proceeds from the 2011 CMA Music Festival through its "Keep the Music Playing" campaign, benefiting music education programs in Nashville public schools. Country music's biggest stars perform for free at the annual summer festival in Nashville, Tenn.
Country star Chris Young played the big stage at LP Field last year. He helped announce the donation Tuesday night at a reception before the third CMA Keep the Music Playing All Stars Concert held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Young grew up in middle Tennessee and benefitted from a thriving school music program.
"It doesn't really matter if somebody ends up doing music for a living. I think it's more important that they have the opportunity to be exposed to it, because music is an important part of everybody's life, even if that's not how you get a paycheck," Young said. "This is a way of making sure no kid is really deprived of that opportunity."
Young hosted the all-stars concert, which featured a middle school band, a magnet school's theatre and orchestra departments, and a pop music ensemble. Young performed his fifth consecutive No. 1 hit, "You", with two students.
Singer Suzy Bogguss performed two songs from her latest project "American Folk Songbook" with an elementary school choir. She said she loved her experience working with the young students.
"It's not just about talent. What it's about is just their pure joy, the thing about children that they bring, their innocence and their desire to just do something they've never done before," she said. "This is a big deal to them tonight."
Since 2006, CMA has donated more than $6.1 million to support music education in public schools. The money has been used to build music labs and purchase more than 4,000 instruments and supplies for 80 Metro Nashville public schools through a partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation.
The 2012 CMA Music Festival will be held June 7-10. Performers include Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, and Zac Brown Band.