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Country duo Maddie & Tae speak on importance of music education in Houston

September 24, 2018

Country music duo Maddie & Tae, along with Nashville songwriters Josh Kerr and Jon Nite, recently visited Waltrip High School as a part of the CMA Foundation’s “It Starts With M.E.” campaign.

The campaign is CMA Foundation’s first national cause marketing campaign, to raise awareness of the benefits of music education that are vital in shaping the next generation of successful leaders.

Maddie & Tae, composed of Madison Marlow of Sugar Land and Taylor Dye of Ada, Okla., came into the country music scene in 2014 with their popular first hit “Girl in a Country Song.” Their debut album, titled Start Here, also produced singles “Fly” and “Shut Up and Fish.”

Maddie & Tae, and Kerr and Nite visited two band classes at Waltrip, and listened to performances by the students.

“We want to let the kiddos know how we got into the music industry and how music programs are so important. Teachers are such a big influence on success. There are so many opportunities that schools can offer with those programs,” Marlow said.

“I come from a different background. Maddie had a great music education growing up and that sparked her interest. And for me, it was the opposite. I really lacked that, unfortunately, so I want kids to have what I didn’t have. We are going in guns blazing and ready to support,” Dye said.

The CMA Foundation also teamed up with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to hold a musical instrument drive in Houston from the 14th-24th, encouraging the community to donate gently used musical instruments at several drop sites located throughout the greater Houston area.

According to a CMA Foundation press release, last fall, the CMA Foundation made a three-year commitment to invest $500,000 through the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to ensure all students in the Houston Independent School District can participate in fine arts, despite limited budgets or resources.

Marlow’s hometown is Sugar Land, and Marlow and Dye met for the first time in Dallas, so Texas ties run strong with this duo.

“I did get to see my parents and my little sister. My fiancé’s family came to the show. I am definitely getting some good family time in. But the most important thing is that I get my Houston food fix. We have to hit all the stops,” Marlow joked.

The singers and songwriters also performed at The Heights Theater on Monday, Sept. 17, as a part of the CMA Songwriters Series, presented by U.S. Bank. The Songwriters Series presents intimate performances, with the songwriters taking turns performing songs and explaining the writing process.

“The reason why we are here is because of the CMA Foundation and It Starts With M.E. campaign. We just want to make sure that you guys know of our passion for this program. One of the reasons why schools lack the music education is because people can’t afford instruments,” Dye said at the start of the show, asking for people’s instrument donations.

Maddie & Tae, and Kerr and Nite took turns singing their hits and upcoming music. Kerr and Nite have written hits for country signers such as Kelsea Ballerini, Lee Brice, and Keith Urban.

Maddie & Tae’s sophomore album has been finished, but a release date has not been set yet. Their current first single off the album is “Friends Don’t.” Maddie & Tae are happy to be back on the music scene, after having to take a unexpected break last year.

“There were definitely some trying moments for us when we found out that the label we were on (Dot Records) was shutting down. Now we are signed with Universal Nashville. It’s our new home and it has been such a blessing,” Marlow said.

Marlow and Dye note that the second album is personal, telling their stories from the last two years.

“It is a story from top to bottom. We can’t wait for fans to listen to it and hope that the story can become their own,” Marlow said. “We just want to touch people’s lives with music and as long as we can keep doing that, then we are happy.”

Maddie & Tae will join Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty Tour 360, starting in May 2019.

“It is an all-female tour which will be exciting. There are so many new venues that we have not played at yet and we will be coming to our home states. We will be coming full circle because Carrie was definitely someone who influenced us,” Dye said.

For more information about the CMA Foundations campaign, visit www.itstartswithME.org, and for more information about Maddie & Tae, visit www.maddieandtae.com.

rebecca.hazen@chron.com

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