Participants Enjoy First Hand Artist Experience at the Grand Ole Opry

Encino, CA (May 17, 2013) - ACM Lifting Lives has partnered once again with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to launch an innovative vocational experience for young adults with developmental disabilities. On a monthly basis, for the next eight months, this new “ACM Lifting Lives Series at Vanderbilt” will help participants learn vocational and social skills aimed at improving the potential for gaining employment in the entertainment industry.

 “The Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives has seen the power of music in its sponsorship of the weeklong annual ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center,” said Hannah Martin, manager of ACM Lifting Lives. “If one week each summer can be transformative, we realized we could make an even greater impact by providing a more extended experience. We’re so proud of the generous response of persons at every level of Nashville’s music business, which helps make this possible.”

Over the eight-month series, participants will experience aspects of the music business, from song writing to mixing instrumentals and vocals, from recording to public relations to performance. Workshops will include resumé writing, networking, and interviewing. The aim is to help prepare these young adults for internships or jobs in a music-related field.

“We’re thrilled at the fantastic opportunity that ACM Lifting Lives Series at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is providing,” said Elisabeth Dykens, director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and co-director of its University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. “Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are significantly unemployed or underemployed, when they have so much to offer. Helping to raise employment aspirations and develop employment skills are a high priority at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. ACM Lifting Lives and so many associated with Nashville’s entertainment industry are making a huge difference by providing these vocational experiences.”

Ten participants, ages 20 to 35, were selected for this pilot project, and the first session, on songwriting, was held April 23.

The most recent session included a full artist experience at the famous Grand Ole Opry.  Opry General Manager Pete Fisher arranged for the participants to have a day at the historic venue where they were treated from start to finish like actual recording artists.  Participants arrived at the artist entrance to check in, were escorted to their dressing rooms and then visited by singer-songwriter Sara Haze who made her Opry debut on May 10th.  The participants were given the opportunity to chat with Haze about her experience and see her perform her debut single, “Firefly.” They were also given the opportunity to perform “Get To Know Me,” a song they wrote at an earlier session with Blair Daly and Hillary Lindsey, on the Opry stage for Haze to watch. 

Tammy Vice is the music consultant for the ACM Lifting Lives Series, and Sheryl Rogers is project manager.

ACM Lifting Lives and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center have been collaborating since 2010 on the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp, a weeklong residential summer program through which campers celebrate music by participating in research, a songwriting workshop, recording session, songwriter's night and a live performance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. In 2011, the campers were invited to perform at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards with chart-topping country music artist Darius Rucker.

About ACM Lifting Lives

ACM Lifting Lives® is the philanthropic arm of the Academy of Country Music dedicated to improving lives through the power of music.  Each year, ACM Lifting Lives provides funding to music-related therapy and education programs, including the organization’s flagship ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp, a partnership since 2010 with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Nashville, TN. ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp is a week-long residential program open to individuals with Williams syndrome, talented in music from around the nation, and has a dual purpose of studying Williams syndrome while providing music enrichment through performance and education. Other Lifting Lives giving includes serving members of the country music community who face unexpected financial hardship through the Diane Holcomb Emergency Relief Fund, and partnering with music artists to improve lives. For more information, please visit

# # #

Media Contact:

Jenelle Scott

Academy of Country Music


[email protected]