Without the investment of their music teachers, country music likely wouldn’t have superstars like Little Big Town and Kelsea Ballerini. That was the overwhelming sentiment Wednesday night, as the CMA Foundation hosted its second annual CMA Music Teachers of Excellence dinner at the Stadium Club at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
While Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook were prepared to host the evening, the CMA Vocal Group of the Year didn’t know they were also in for a surprise. They were reunited with the four music teachers who nurtured their talents long before they formed Little Big Town.
In a pre-recorded segment, Kelsea Ballerini paid a return visit to Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, visiting with a pivotal figure in her life, teacher Beckye Thomas.
Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Cam, Cassadee Pope and Zac Brown Band all reflected on how music education had affected them in another video that wrapped up the night.
Funded by the money raised during CMA Music Festival, the CMA Foundation has given more than $17.5 million to music education in the past 17 years. It all started in 2000, when Kix Brooks spearheaded the effort to give $1 million worth of instruments to Metro Nashville Public Schools.
In all, 31 music educators were honored Wednesday night: 25 from Music City, and six more from across the U.S.
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