By Aila Boyd
During the online graduation ceremony for James River High School last Tuesday, Matthew Ramsey, a Buchanan native and the lead singer of the country music band Old Dominion, announced that the Ramsey Foundation will be donating $50,000 to arts programs at the high school. The announcement marks the foundation’s first donation.
In his address, Ramsey, a graduate of the school, discussed the support that the community has given for the annual Nashville Night in Buchanan, which he said has allowed him to start the Ramsey Foundation. He noted that the goal of the foundation is to “funnel money back into the community to make it even better and help those in need.”
“I would encourage you in whatever successes you have in the future to never forget where you came from and give back in any way you can, whether that be through action or through kind supportive words. Just give back in whatever way you can big or small,” he said.
Peggy Ramsey, Matthew’s mother, explained that he was heavily involved arts programs during his time in school, including playing in the band, serving on the yearbook staff, and majoring in art in college.
She also noted that the foundation is focused on providing cultural resources to rural areas and assisting with daily needs. Prior to the Ramsey Foundation being launched last year, money from the annual event was donated to the Buchanan Area Ministerial Association’s Food Pantry.
Jamie Talbott, principal of James River, said, “The $50,000 was awarded to James River High School as the initial donation from the foundation. The funds will allow JRHS the opportunity to enhance our fine arts programs and provide additional quality learning experiences for our students. We are proud of Matt’s success as a singer and songwriter, but more importantly his heartfelt generosity has touched the lives of our students and community members for many years.”
At the end of his comments, Ramsey encouraged graduates to follow their hearts and their guts.
“If you want something, go for it,” he said. “I’m not the best singer. I’m not the best songwriter. I’m not the best guitar player. But I wanted this really bad. I fought for it. I stayed with it. I got told ‘no’ all the time. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I didn’t care. I went for it because my heart told me to. If you do that, I promise you, you will succeed.”
He also appeared in the Lord Botetourt High School graduation ceremony video the night before.
As for whether Nashville Night in Buchanan will happen this year, Peggy said that plans are currently up in the air given restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I hope it will happen, but I just can’t say that it will,” she said.