RIAA on Twitter

News Releases

Give The Gift Of Music's "Countdown To CMA" Essay Contest Winners Announced

Lady Antebellum Essay Earns Goodlettsville, Tenn.'s Jennifer Dotson
Grand Prize Tickets to Attend CMA Awards***

Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton & Carrie Underwood Fans
Receive Second & Third Place Prize

MARLTON, N.J./WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 8, 2011: NARM, the music business association, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today announced the winners of the “Give the Gift of Music” (GTGOM) campaign’s autumn essay contest that asked fans to share how a current CMA Awards nominee’s music has inspired them.


From about 700 thoughtful entries submitted to the givethegiftofmusic.info website, speech-language pathologist Jennifer Dotson from Goodlettsville, Tenn. was selected as the grand prize winner.  For her heartfelt essay describing how Lady Antebellum’s music helped one of her students to learn, grow and express himself, Jennifer was awarded two tickets to attend the CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. this Wednesday, November 9 and a cash prize of $1,000. 


The second and third place winners – Angela* from Franklin, Tenn. (second) and a tie between Ashlee Scarborough from Wadesboro, N.C. and Lynsi* from Elizabethtown, Pa. (third) – will each receive country music gift packages for their contributions describing how Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood inspired them respectively.   (*Some last names have been left out to protect the privacy of the individuals).  The winning and other entries can be viewed below and on the GTGOM website at givethegiftofmusic.info/your-music-memories/.


Thanks to the outpour of thoughtful essays received, the “Give the Gift of Music” campaign also announced today that it will award the top six runners up from across the country $50 music gift cards.

In September, a number of 2011 CMA Awards nominees joined leading music retailers and labels to launch the “Countdown to CMA” essay contest and encourage musical gift giving as part of the GTGOM campaign.  Video tributes on the value of music gifting from Taylor Swift, Chris Young, Martina McBride, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and many more are available for viewing at givethegiftofmusic.info/artist-memories


NARM and RIAA partnered last fall to lead an industry-wide effort to revitalize the 30-year old GTGOM campaign and spotlight the significance of giving and receiving music as a gift.  A variety of industry organizations and more than 50 top musicians have since joined to support the initiative and help spread the gifting message. 


Music fans and consumers are encouraged to connect with the campaign, and its participating popular artists, at givethegiftofmusic.info and on social media sites including Facebook (facebook.com/givethegiftofmusic) and Twitter (twitter.com/#!/AGiftOfMusic).


Winning Essays:


•         First Place – By Jennifer Dotson from Goodlettsville, Tenn.


I am a speech-language pathologist in a school system. My job is to teach children with various disabilities to communicate. For 13 years, I have been proud of many success stories with teaching my students but nothing is more inspiring and humbling than when the child ends up teaching me. While my life has been blessed by having the privilege to work with many wonderful children in my career, this story is about one particular gift from God. I have worked with this child in the summer program providing speech therapy for the past 3 years.  He is now 7. When he came into this world, he was given little hope to talk or progress in many areas of development. He has made me think outside the box more than any other student in my career. Why? Well, he was born with multiple disabilities including being blind. Now, think about that...no sight. How do you learn the world you live in, if you can't see it? This comes as a particular challenge to a speech therapist who is used to showing children pictures or objects to teach vocabulary and using visual cues to teach speech sounds. How do I teach a child the concept of colors if he can't see them? How do you teach farm animals without the actual animals? Art projects...do you think this means anything to this child? All the preschool concepts that we are used to teaching...what do they mean to a child with cognitive impairments as well as being blind.    This child has a great strength though...since he can't see, God blessed him with great auditory memory and a great ear for music. He loves music and will do anything to hear it. He sings and rocks to the beat and he knows what he likes and will definitely express his favorites! As a therapist, I decided to expand on his strengths and use  his highest motivator to teach speech and language skills.  I downloaded several ring tones on my phone and started experimenting. Thank goodness, he loved country music! Now, I can actually enjoy his reward as well!     First, I used the music simply as a reward. First you do this work, then you can hear part of a song. I quickly realized that I could use the music itself to teach concepts. Do you know how hard it is for a 4 year old with disabilities to say Lady Antebellum?? He did it though. Why? Cause he wanted to hear their music and he had to ask me for it to get it. I even taught him to articulate a "V" with their song "Lub don't lib here anymore".  He learned to put sentences together, answer questions, request items, and the concept of waiting by using nothing more than some country music songs. Concepts such as more, whole, different, and same can all be incorporated into requesting some good ole country music. As a therapist, I just had to learn to think differently.     I learned that my kiddo is a typical Kindergartner when he giggled at Thompson Square's song, "Are you gonna Kiss me or Not?" and put so much energy into Aldean's lyrics… "To be a star you gotta bang, bang, bang!!" But one day, he really tugged at the heart strings when he came into therapy requesting "a song for my mommy". We had been working off the same playlist of songs and I had no idea what he was talking about but he was very persistent in what he wanted. I went through some songs and at each song that I came to that was not "song for my mommy" he got more upset. I finally found it and he excitedly said, "song for my mommy!"  We had learned the names of most songs and the Artists but this song was one of my newer downloads so I guess he didn't know the name but Wow, did he know what he wanted! !!    "Song for my Mommy" was by Lady Antebellum but you may know it better as "Someday you Will". I immediately got tears in my eyes when I heard this precious child singing the lyrics knowing he was "singing this to his mommy". Did this child whom professionals said wouldn't progress, actually know what he was singing? If you have ever known a family of a child with disabilities, you know the struggles they deal with everyday. They lose hope; they have heartache; and they just want to feel peace in their life. In my heart, I know he was giving his mom and myself a message by telling her..."But down the road the sun is shining, in every cloud there's a silver lining... just keep holding on...and every heartache makes you stronger but it won't be much longer, you'll find love, you'll find peace and the you you're meant to be...I know right now that's not the way you feel, but one day you will…” Thank you to the music industry for giving all of us the words to express how we feel when we just can't formulate the thoughts on our own. I know by the tears streaming down my student's mother's face that she appreciates you! This was a message from her son that she could not have received any other way than through your music. For this, we all thank you.   

 
•         Second Place – By Angela from Franklin, Tenn.


Almost 5 years ago, I was faced with a nightmare. My 5-year-old, precious angel was the victim of an aggravated sexual assault. My sweet innocent baby was broken and devastated. All I could do was love her, take her to counseling, and watch her work through it. It was during this time that a close friend gave her a CD of a young performer by the name of "Taylor Swift." At the time, my daughter was unable to pronounce the letter T, so she was known around our house as "Taylor Swiss." That CD and the person that is Taylor Swift became my daughter's constant source of strength. One evening while at dinner at a local Pizza Hut that happened to be having karaoke, my little girl got up to sing "Tim McGraw."  I didn't know if she sang it right or not, but it was beautiful and I admired how brave it was to get up in front of the people and do it.  Taylor's music was her safety net, her musical therapy, and a source of strength. She told me once that because Taylor was strong, she would be strong and because Taylor could sing, then she would sing.   I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this beautiful young performer. Because of her songs and her spirit my child that was broken and scared is now strong and fearless.


•         Third Place (Tie) – By Ashlee Scarborough from Wadesboro, N.C.


I love my husband dearly, and he is such an inspiration of mine. He is a down-home country boy that was raised in the south with that good ol’ country charm. He is self-employed and works so hard for myself and our family. The man I fell in love with back in 2002 continues to make me feel weak in the knees. My husband and I have always listened to Blake Shelton’s music all through the years. It seems as if so many of Blake’s songs have created a smile between my husband and I. Whether it be because the songs reminds us of one another or if it just reminds of us of our everyday country lives, Blake’s songs has always hit right at home. Through the years whether we were listening to "Austin," "In My Heaven," "Some Beach," "Nobody But Me," "Don’t Make Me," "Country Song," "Hillbilly Bone," "Honey Bee," or "God Gave Me You," Blake has always showed us passion, depth of romance, celebration of family and friends, and overall just to have fun! Blake has become one of the biggest voices and faces in Country now, but yet he still seems to be such a good ol’ country boy, just as my husband. Blake continues to express that he is still learning, growing, and reaching for success and this hits home with my family and I. No matter how much success and growth you feel as you have conquered, you can always do more! I would love to have the opportunity to come to the CMA Awards in November 2011 in Nashville, TN. By displaying how Blake Shelton has been an inspiration to my husband and I and to win tickets would be an awesome blessing. How spectacular it would be to give a gift such as that to my husband who has always been an inspiration to me.


•         Third Place (Tie) – By Lynsi from Elizabethtown, Pa.


Carrie Underwood has been an inspiration to me ever since I can remember. I was born with autism and have had to struggle with its complications all of my life. I have been hurt by so many people that have judged me. They don't understand that I am really just a person. I always look to music to help me when I am upset. Carrie Underwood's song "Temporary Home" has been a huge inspiration to me. I realize that these feelings of hurt are just temporary and I need to do the best I can with the gifts God has given me. I have grown to realize that autism is a gift and I need to use that to help others with autism get through what I have gone through. I work at a school that is just for kids with autism now. I hope to soon open my own place to help kids use music to help them through their everyday struggles. Thanks to Carrie Underwood and "Temporary Home," I have been inspired to dedicate my life to these kids.  I go to work with a smile on my face every day and pour 100% into these kids because they deserve the best just like anyone else.


# # # # #


About NARM: NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) advances the promotion, marketing, distribution and sale of music by providing members with diverse meeting and networking opportunities, information and education resources, and advocacy for their common interests. NARM is based in Marlton, New Jersey.


About RIAA: The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States. In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.


Media Contacts:

Nicole Hennessey, 856.596.2221, hennessey@narm.com

Jonathan Lamy, 202.775.0101, jlamy@riaa.com

Cara Duckworth, cduckworth@riaa.com

Liz Kennedy, lkennedy@riaa.com

#####

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members are the music labels that comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi- Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Contact:
Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy
202/775-0101