The Country Music Association’s philanthropic arm, the CMA Foundation, has tapped Russell Dickerson as the latest CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador to stand up for equitable music education initiatives across the U.S. Growing up with both parents active in the arts—his mom is a music teacher and his dad is a choir director—Dickerson has experienced first-hand the meaningful effects music education has on a young person’s life.
“As a child, Russell was surrounded by family who strongly believed in music education,” says Tiffany Kerns, CMA Foundation Executive Director. “He can speak to how music instills confidence, teamwork and why it positively influences many other areas of life. We thank Russell for joining us to raise our voices in support of equity in music education and helping further drive our mission forward with making sure all students across the U.S. have access to participate in quality music programs.”
“I’ve never not been a student of music, and started out in children’s choir at church” says Dickerson. “My mom was my 4th grade music teacher, and I was in band from 6th grade to senior year. I look back on my school years and get choked up sometimes thinking about some of my incredible teachers. They’re making a huge impact on the lives of their students whether they see it or not. Music education is the foundation and backbone of everything I am today.”
As a CMA Foundation Artist Ambassador, Dickerson will take the stage from the Grand Ole Opry Saturday, May 8 in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, which takes place beginning May 3, 2021. The show will benefit the CMA Foundation, which supports music education across the U.S. and will be livestreamed on Circle TV’s Opry Live and various other platforms. Viewers will be invited to donate to the CMA Foundation by texting TEACHERS to 707070. Dickerson will be joined by Jamey Johnson & Randy Houser, Chris Lane and Steve Wariner. The CMA Foundation is programming various other activities featuring Dickerson in the upcoming weeks and months to inspire students and teachers through the healing power of music. One of his Artist Ambassador engagements will be visiting with band students at his former high school, Centennial High School in Franklin, TN.
Dickerson joins the CMA Foundation’s Artist Ambassador collective alongside Jimmie Allen, Lindsay Ell, Maddie & Tae and Ashley McBryde, who are all advocating for music education in ways that are personal to them. Allen took part in a virtual meeting with a third-grade music class at Snowden Elementary in Memphis, TN to share his story and discuss music and songwriting with the students. He also participated in the CMA Foundation’s Teaching Artist Webinar Series to discuss culturally relevant teaching, music discovery and parenting in a pandemic. Ell shared the healing power of music with Nashville’s Mt. View Elementary students during a virtual songwriting session in March, as well as teaching student guitarists how to restring and tune a guitar. Maddie & Tae are in the midst of virtual meetings with high school choir students and female band directors. McBryde served as the inaugural Artist Ambassador, meeting virtually with music teachers last year to discuss the obstacles faced while teaching amid the pandemic and sharing how music education led to her career in Country Music. She created a music lesson on building the major scale for teachers and students to use in both their in-person and virtual classrooms.
The CMA Foundation will continue to provide unique opportunities and support for music teachers and students as more Artist Ambassadors are announced throughout the year.