Chely with John Thomas
Quigley and his prized
trumpet he received from
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Who Are We?
The Reading, Writing, and Rhythm
Foundation is a
nonprofit organization started by country music artist Chely Wright that is dedicated to improving the quality of music education
in America's public schools. Our aim is to raise public awareness about the
importance of music education for our nation's youth.
It's a fact - Music
education improves things such as SAT scores, school attendance, the ability
to work in teams, self-esteem, self-discipline, early cognitive development,
creativity, spatial reasoning skills, basic math and reading skills and the
knowledge of other cultures and history.
Scientific studies have proven that music
participation builds brainpower in children by enhancing vital intellectual
skills. As a result, music participation increases a child's ability to
learn basic math and reading. Students who participate in music programs
score significantly higher on standardized tests while at the same time
developing crucial skills to be successful in life. Students involved in
music are also less likely to be involved in gangs, drugs, or alcohol abuse
and have better attendance in school. Most importantly though, students
What We Do:
Our goal is raising money to help public
school music departments by providing them with musical instruments and
equipment. And also heightening awareness of the music education on national
and local levels. Each year in June Chely Wright hosts a benefit concert to
raise money for the Reading, Writing & Rhythm Foundation, raising over
$116,000 in 2003!
How Can You Help?
You can make a donation! Any donation big or small
can help us provide the instruments and equipment needed to under funded
schools across the country. You can reach us in a variety of ways so
please view our contact information here.
Does Your School Need Help?
You can have your school principal or music director
contact us at the number above, or have them come to the web site and fill
out the on-line request form.
Want To Learn More About
You can visit
the National Association For Music Education's web site
here. You can
listen to a public service announcement that Chely recorded for the MENC
Introduction / About Chely
While Americans watched and endured the
devastation of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado
on April 20, 1999, country music artist Chely Wright saw something more.
“My initial thought was…those kids who did the shooting were fairly certain
their lives were going to end that day, either by their hand or someone
else's. It occurred to me, these children had no sense of acceptance or
belonging. There was no ballgame, no band practice or after-school event
where they felt like they belonged; a place where they wanted to be; a place
where they fit in.”
Chely’s personal thoughts surrounding the event were disturbing and reminded
Wright of a promise she made to herself long ago when she was growing up in
a small Kansas town dreaming of making it big in country music.
"I always promised myself that if I ever ‘made it’ in the music business, I
would do something to help other kids who might be interested in music," she
said. "When the shootings took place at Columbine, it made me realize there
was something I could do and now was the time to do it. I could bring music
into children’s lives.”
Therein lay the premise behind Wright's Reading, Writing & Rhythm
foundation. Wright came up with the idea to establish the foundation in
October 1999 with the purpose of raising funds for music education in public
schools and to supply musical instruments and equipment to schools in need
across the nation.
“Research studies have shown, music education has been determined to improve
school attendance, the ability to work in teams, self-esteem,
self-discipline, early cognitive development, creativity, spatial reasoning
skills, basic math and reading skills, in addition to the knowledge of other
cultures and history. Music has the potential to help children develop
important life skills. This decision was a ‘natural’ for me.”
Wright is active to help the organization raise awareness of music education
on national and local levels as well as raise money for public schools. The
primary source of funding for the foundation is Wright’s active fan club and
web site. An exclusive annual calendar is sold through the fan club with all
proceeds benefiting the foundation. In addition, as the official kick off to
Fan Fair each year, Wright hosts abenefit concert to raise money for the
foundation inviting personal friends from the country music scene and the
Hollywood screen. Stars whom have participated in this event in the past
include country music artists, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Terry Clark, Rascal
Flatts, Keith Urban, Diamond Rio, Brad Paisley, Darryl Worley, Clay Walker
and Loretta Lynn; pop recording artists, Richard Marx and Nine Days, and TV
and Film celebrities, Evan Marriott (Joe Millionaire) and Vern Troyer (aka
Mini Me of Austin Powers). Hollywood actress Sissy Spacek made a surprise
walk-on appearance during the 2002 show and Martina McBride has committed to
participate in this year’s concert event (June 2004).
“I am thrilled and very proud that my friends in music and arts are willing
to lend their talents to participate in this worthwhile charity event. Their
continued support and willingness to participate is a clear indication to me
that what we are doing is not only worthwhile but that we are all believers
in music education. It’s the music that brings us together.”
In conjunction with the annual concert event, a silent and live auction is
held featuring music, sports and celebrity memorabilia. Top selling auction
items in previous years have included dinner with Chely Wright, lyrics to
hit songs, wardrobe items from a video shoot, fly-aways to concert events
and a shirt taken right off the artist’s back the night of the event! All
proceeds from event ticket sales and the auction benefit the Reading,
Writing & Rhythm foundation.
In the short time since its inception, the foundation is fast approaching
the Million-Dollar mark. Reading, Writing & Rhythm has given gifts of
musical instruments to more than 300 band students; a sound system for over
100 choir members; and guitar classes for more than 200 students where no
classes have been offered before. A small grant to create a Fine Arts
Department resulted in a new Drama Department with 17 students participating
in the first year. In addition PA equipment, band uniforms and sheet music
have been provided to music students and schools in several states including
educational institutions in Alaska, Idaho, South Carolina, Kansas, Missouri,
Montana, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia. The foundation encompasses ten
board members and more than thirty volunteers made up of industry folks
(varying from management teams, booking agents, label execs, and music
industry organizations etc.) who lend a hand each year in support of the
charity concert event.
Reading, Writing & Rhythm is partnered with the National Association of
Music Education (MENC), an organization that encompasses a group of 85,000
public school music teachers, and Yamaha. The MENC is directive and
instrumental in the school selection and award process.
“Students involved in music are less likely to be involved in gangs, drugs
or alcohol abuse and they have better attendance in school,” Chely adds.
“Reading, Writing & Rhythm offers the child who’s interested in music
education the opportunity. Music is communicative. Music is magic. It’s
infectious and students nationwide are catching on!"
the music community:
“Music allows children to dream. It gives
them a way to express themselves. It gives them hope, inspiration, passion
and laughter. This is why keeping music in schools is so crucial."
-- Keith Urban (Capitol Records)
"The beauty of the country music community is demonstrated in the way we all
come together to support good causes through the work of others. Making
music education available to our children opens up whole new realm for
learning. Chely's work all year long allows me the personal opportunity to
offer my small contribution to make huge impact—to keep music in our schools
-- Terri Clark (Mercury Records)
“Having children of my own and being part of the music industry, I am made
aware daily of the importance of music in our lives. Music is just one of
the things that brings our family together and I'm delighted to have been
part of the Reading, Writing & Rhythm event to share the magic of music with
students and our schools.”
-- Amy Grant
"Over the course of my career, I've been involved with various organizations
that work to promote music education in schools throughout the country.
Armed with the proven statistics that exposure to music consistently enables
children to do better on SAT scores, I have been one of the several artists
to go to Washington D.C. to ask Congress to eliminate the cuts in music
education in public schools. Organizations like Chely's are more vital now
than ever to help the current generation of youth perform scholastically to
the best of their ability.
-- Pop recording artist, Richard Marx
“…Making sure that the arts remain a part of the education process is an
issue that is very important to us…We were honored to be a part of Chely's
event and applaud her for championing this cause.”
-- Marty Roe / Diamond Rio
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS | SCHOOLS HELPED |
© 2004 RW&R FOUNDATION