Press Release: Back to School PSAs Feature Top Musicians

Stars from the Musical Spectrum Answer the Question “Why Music?” as Students Head Back to School

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

RESTON, VA (August 19, 2010) — MENC: The National Association for Music Education released the newest edition in its series of radio public service announcements featuring top musicians for “Back to School” 2010. 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 2010 are Harry Connick, Jr., Pat Benatar, the Backstreet Boys, and Anika Noni Rose. Returning artists include Joshua Redman, Martha Wash, Steven Van Zandt, Mark O’Connor, Darius Rucker, Trisha Yearwood, Al Jarreau, Kathy Mattea, Gloria Estefan, Vanessa Williams, Janis Ian, Faith Hill, Chely Wright, Tim McGraw, Bonnie Raitt, and others. (See a complete list of artists participating in the series since 1997.) Wolf Trap, America’s National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, VA, facilitated the participation of Connick, Benatar, and the Backstreet Boys.

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 Michael A. Butera, MENC’s executive director. “We believe that these 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 August as children head “Back to School.”

“To succeed tomorrow, today’s students need a comprehensive education that includes music taught by exemplary music educators,” continued Butera. “Music is intrinsically valuable on its own, of course, but learning music can also benefit students in ways that may surprise people. For instance, music education has been shown to be associated with higher SAT scores, better school attendance, pursuit of higher education, and higher income, as well as personal fulfillment. This is information our leaders need to know as they make critical education decisions in these tight budget times.”

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.

Read on for information about the new participants in this series. For more information, contact Elizabeth Lasko, 703-860-4000. MENC’s Web site is

Harry Connick, Jr.’s career has been studded with awards and recognition, including several multi-platinum and gold albums, Grammy and Emmy awards, a starring role in a Tony-winning Broadway musical and more. His 2009 CD, Your Songs, features his arrangements for big band and string orchestra of contemporary standards identified with iconic artists including Elvis Presley, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. Connick boasts album sales of over 25 million; endless accolades in the music, film, television, and theater worlds; and a growing profile as a responsive public citizen who is making a significant difference. Visit

The Backstreet Boys — Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and AJ McLean — have sold over 130 million records worldwide, making them one of the biggest selling groups of all time. They rose to fame with their debut album, Backstreet Boys (1996) and to superstardom with Millennium (1999) and its follow-up album, Black & Blue (2000). After a three-year hiatus, the band regrouped and have since released three albums: Never Gone (2005), Unbreakable (2007) and This Is Us (2009) and play to sold-out crowds around the world. Visit

Pat Benatar is a certified rock ‘n’ roll superstar, a four-time Grammy winner with six platinum and four gold albums to her credit as well as such hit singles as “Heartbreaker,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” Shadows of the Night,” and “Love Is A Battlefield.” She was the first female artist to appear on MTV. Long acknowledged as one of the leading female rock vocalists in the industry, Benatar also has a best-selling memoir, 2010’s “Between a Heart and a Rock Place.” Visit

Tony-Award winning singer/actress Anika Noni Rose has won accolades for her performances on the big screen (“Dreamgirls”) and small (HBO’s “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency”) as well as on Broadway (“Caroline or Change”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”). In 2009, she was the voice of Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess, in the animated smash “The Princess and the Frog.” Visit

For today’s students to succeed tomorrow, they need a comprehensive education that includes music taught by exemplary music educators.

MENC: The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. Through membership of more than 75,000 active, retired, and pre-service music teachers, and with 60,000 honor students and supporters, MENC serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school. MENC’s mission is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all. 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. MENC is located at the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.

Follow MENC on Twitter and on Facebook.