The “National Religious Broadcasters” (NRB) are gathered this week at the Gaylord Opryland Resorts for their 75th annual convention, “#Proclaim18.” The single largest international gathering of christian communicators spent Thursday morning discussing social media’s efforts to silence conservative and christian voices. This is an ongoing subject, though this specific dialog was oddly timed, in light of the storm brewing over on Music Row.
Wednesday evening the CMA Foundation announced the election of Governor Mike Huckabee to its board, citing his vast experience in advancing reform policy of music education, as well as, the fact that advocacy for music education has always been a passion in the forefront of his public service. Additionally, Huckabee previously served as Director on NAMM Foundation’s Board (National Association of Music Merchants).
This is where Sandbox Entertainment Group and Monument Records head, Jason Owen withdrew his support of the Foundation, launching an ad hominem attack against Huckabee. Owen wrote a letter calling Huckabee’s appointment “a grossly offensive decision” pointing to his NRA support and biblical beliefs. Owen added that he, nor his artists, would continue their support of the Foundation’s philanthropy, due to Huckabee’s appointment. Sandbox’s roster boasts artists such as, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, as well as, the luxury resort Blackberry Farms, located in the Smoky Mountains of East, Tennessee.
By the time the NRB attendees were wrapping up their day (next door to the Opry) the country music industry had successfully marginalized Huckabee, prompting his resignation. In his letter, Huckabee suggested,
“If the industry doesn’t want people of faith or who hold conservative and traditional political views to buy tickets and music, they should be forthcoming and say it.”
The CMA Foundation describes the program as, “guided by the generosity of the Country Music community,” is the philanthropic arm, which focuses on “improving and sustaining music education programs across the country. Hosting the annual CMA Festival, the foundation donates half of the proceeds from the event, providing grants to over 50 music education initiatives in all 50 states. The Foundation’s website adds, “Without the support of the Country Music community these efforts would not be possible.”
Speaking to For Bass Players Only Huckabee once said,
“We’re losing so many kids,” he says. “The issue is dropouts, but they’re also the right-brain dominant creative class that will create the next Apple computer or Pixar, and we’re making a huge mistake by not tapping into their creativity.”
In navigating the civility challenges in today’s landscape of societal and political divisions, Huckabee’s fidelity to the Foundation’s mission is exemplified by his steadfast willingness to give rise to principles over personalities.
If “walking the talk” is a measure we strive for, in raising the bar on civility, then what does that look like? Building bridges and working together on issues of agreement should, certainly, be a desirous step towards addressing division in the greater community. Historically, music and education have served as the catalyst in building those very bridges.