Some schools in East Tennessee are getting a boost in their music programs thanks to a hometown hero and Grammy Award winner.
Usher, who grew up in Chattanooga, and his Nancy Lackey Community Education Fund are teaming up with Little Kids Rock to bring its music education program — which allows students to create music across several genres — to 21 city schools around Hamilton County, per FOX 17. So far, the fund has distributed more than $400,000 that has directly impacted 8,000 students in Chattanooga and Hamilton County.
The "Burn" musician hopes the expanded music programs will inspire students across the region in the same way he was encouraged by his late nanny Nancy Lackey.
"Sometimes coming from underserved communities people need motivators, people need mentors," Usher said. "I've had numerous conversations with teachers who've really found that way to really connect with kids by way of understanding their music; by understanding what type of music and cultures these kids come from."
Little Kids Rock founder and CEO Dave Wish explained why creative programs are important to nurture in schools.
"Think about the last few years where some of us have had to live in isolation: what got us through was movies, books, music, art," said Wish. "People need to remember that when they're reaching for the budget cutter."