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When Darius Rucker presented a check for one million dollars for music education to Metro Nashville Public Schools on Friday, it was a gesture that has deep meaning for him personally. Growing up in South Carolina, Darius says it was school music programs that kept him motivated to study.

“Music education was always big for me. Ever since I was a young kid, I always said it was the reason I went to school sometimes and knowing if I didn’t do well in class that my mom wasn’t gonna let me sing in school or sing at that concert. Man, I had that solo and it’s hard to be humble,” he joked, “so I had to be there, so I had to get school. School was very important to me and music was what kept me coming back.”

The money comes from the CMA Foundation, from money raised during the yearly CMA Music Festival. For Darius, it’s just extra motivation to keep playing the concerts that perpetually sell out every June.

“Each year when I play the CMA Music Fest, it just makes it a little more sweeter, because I know where the money’s going and the great things they’re doing,” he says. “And you know, to know that the CMA Fest was responsible for giving millions and investing millions back into music education just really makes me happy and really makes me proud to be a part of it.”

All totaled, the CMA Foundation has given ten million dollars to music education programs in Nashville over the past decade. 

Darius has five more dates on his Southern Style tour with David Nail and A Thousand Horses, before wrapping November 20 in Toledo, Ohio.

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