Thanks to Stingray Radio, the Distinguished Visiting Artist in Country Music initiative is getting closer to achieving its fundraising goals. A gift of $100,000 was presented to the program ahead of a masterclass with Bobby Wills and The Prairie States for MacEwan University music students on September 14.

Jackie Rae Greening, campaign chair for the Distinguished Visiting Artist in Country Music (DVACM), was on site in Allard Hall to introduce the evening’s guests, as well as the donors. Susan Reade, general manager of Stingray Radio, presented the donation to the program on behalf of the company.

The funds received will go toward expanding the endowment established to support the visiting artist program and increasing the learning opportunities for students, as well as bringing in an assortment of established artists and other industry professionals for future masterclasses and performances.

Following the donation, music students and invited alumni participated in a masterclass with the evening’s special guests, Bobby Wills and The Prairie States. Wills is a Canadian Country Music Association and Alberta Country Music Association award-winning artist originally from Calgary. The Prairie States are an Edmonton-based group who have become known for their unique mesh of old and new country styles, and have also won multiple Country Music Alberta awards. 

The visiting artists gave students tips on songwriting, as well as the business side of the music industry. Students were able to learn about building a band with other musicians, finding an agent and getting their music out to the world.

The masterclass was a precursory event to the Backstage Pass Concert Series, which kicks off on September 15 with a reception followed by intimate performances from both Wills and The Prairie States for invited guests. This concert, a fundraiser for the DVACM, is the first of many in the series.

To get involved with the initiative, head to

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