The spoken and sung messages of some of Nashville's top recording artists will be sent to American troops in Saudi Arabia, record company officials have announced.

Ten national record companies will ship up to 150,000 cassettes of country and gospel music to the Middle East through the "Operation Desert Song" project, said Ken Harding of New Haven Records.The effort appears to be the largest of its kind in the country, said Harding, who helped spearhead the project. Two similar but smaller projects were recently launched in Los Angeles, he added.

Already, record companies have donated 120,000 tapes to the project and another 30,000 are expected by the end of November. The tapes will be sent to the Defense Department for distribution.

Organizers did not specifically name performers to be featured on the music tapes. Instead, they said the cassettes would represent every recording artist signed to a major record label in Nashville.

That would include performers such as Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr., Clint Black, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, the Judds, Garth Brooks, Kathy Mattea, the Kentucky HeadHunters, Ricky Van Shelton, Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Amy Grant, Take 6 and Sandi Patti.

Also to be sent are 500 copies of a videotape with messages from country and gospel music singers.

Some of the messages:

From McEntire, "Hurry up and come home 'cause we miss you. Thanks for keeping us safe."

From Tammy Wynette, "Hang in there. . . . I promise I'm coming over to sing to all of you."

From Lee Greenwood, "I believe in what you are doing and all Americans support you."

Gov. Ned McWherter also appeared on the tape, saying he hoped troops were back home "in time to go squirrel hunting, duck hunting and for Christmas."