Clay Aiken And Marty Stuart Answer The Question "Why Music?" As Students Head Back To School

This is an Official Press Release - August 15, 2008

Musical Stars Explain the Importance of Music Education in Award-Winning Radio PSA Series Produced by MENC: The National Association for Music Education

RESTON, VA (August 14, 2008) -- MENC: The National Association for Music Education released the newest edition in its series of radio public service announcements featuring top pop and country musicians for “Back to School” 2008. The series, called Why Music?, features musical stars talking about the value and importance of music education.

New artists joining the lineup for Back to School 2008 are Clay Aiken and Marty Stuart. Returning artists include Trisha Yearwood, Al Jarreau, Kathy Mattea, Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams, Patty Loveless, Janis Ian, Faith Hill, Chely Wright, Tim McGraw, Roger McGuinn, Bonnie Raitt, and others. (A complete list of artists participating in the series since 1997 can be viewed at

Born in Raleigh, N.C., Clay Aiken sang his way up from school choirs to the American Idol stage. Since then, Aiken has released five well received albums, and next month he returns to the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” A current ambassador for UNICEF, Aiken has pursued his mission of bringing primary education to all children. Throughout his career, Aiken has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children in need.

A local prodigy by age twelve, Marty Stuart’s mandolin playing led to a road gig with the Sullivan Family Singers. Stuart has since scored six top-ten hits, one platinum and five gold albums, and four Grammy Awards. Throughout his career in the country music industry he has collaborated with other top country artists such as Travis Tritt and Johnny Cash. Marty Stuart has also served as president of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors.

Each PSA in the Why Music? series features an artist talking about the importance of music education for today’s youth or a personal experience he or she had with music in school. The PSAs are available for radio stations to download at

The PSAs are part of MENC’s unceasing efforts to keep music programs strong in America’s schools. “MENC’s mission is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by everyone,” said John J. Mahlmann, MENC’s executive director. “We believe that the celebrity messages significantly raise the public’s awareness of the positive effect music education has on kids.” MENC releases Why Music? twice a year — in March to coincide with Music In Our Schools Month, and in September as children head “Back to School.”

“Music is intrinsically valuable on its own, of course,” continued Mahlmann, “but it doesn’t hurt, at a time when school budgets are so tight, to spread the word about the other ways learning music can benefit students. For instance, a recent Harris survey found that music education is associated with higher education and higher income, as well as personal fulfillment. If you want to be a CEO, college president, or even a rock star, study music!”

Why Music? has received several prestigious communications awards, including the League of American Communications Professionals 2002 Magellan Awards Publicity Campaign Competition Bronze Award for Community Relations and The Communicator Awards 2002 Audio Competition Crystal Award of Excellence. In addition, MENC was awarded Honorable Mention in the PR News 2002 Platinum PR Awards for PSA Campaign, and the 2001 Bronze Anvil Award for Best Radio Public Service Announcement by the Public Relations Society of America. The series was awarded the Mercury Awards 2003 Honors for the Campaign/Public Service Announcements category and the APEX 2003 Award of Excellence in the Public Relations and Information Video and Electronics Publications Category.

For more information on this series, contact Elizabeth Lasko at 703-860-4000 or MENC’s Web site is

MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. More than 142,000 members and supporters represent all levels of teaching from preschool to graduate school. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education.

Elizabeth Lasko
Director, Public Relations
MENC: The National Association for Music Education
Reston, VA
Phone : 703-860-4000
Fax : 703-860-9404

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