ACM LIFTING LIVES’® TWO SUMMER CAMPS CELEBRATE THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC
ACM LIFTING LIVES’® TWO SUMMER CAMPS
CELEBRATE THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC
LAUREN ALAINA, ROSS COPPERMAN, CHARLES ESTEN, CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON, FRANK RAY, RESTLESS ROAD, TIGIRLILY GOLD, AND MORE
HELP CAMPERS GET AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE NASHVILLE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND
PERFORM ON STAGE
(L-R, Lauren Alaina (center) with ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp participants on stage at the Grand Ole Opry; Caleb Lee Hutchinson joins campers and volunteers at the SENSE Theatre ACM Lifting Lives 2023 Summer Camp.)
ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp photos available HERE. Opry performance photos available HERE and video available HERE. SENSE Theatre ACM Lifting Lives Summer Camp photos available HERE. All photos courtesy Getty Images for ACM Lifting Lives, except the Lauren Alaina Opry photos and video, which are courtesy © Grand Ole Opry, and the SENSE Theatre photos which are courtesy Erin O. Smith for ACM Lifting Lives.
NASHVILLE, TN (June 29, 2023) – ACM Lifting Lives®, the philanthropic partner of the Academy of Country Music® hosted the 14th Annual ACM Lifting Lives® Music Camp with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Wednesday, June 14 through Tuesday, June 20, and the SENSE Theatre® ACM Lifting Lives® 2023 Summer Camp with SENSE Theatre®, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, and Vanderbilt University Department of Theatre Monday, June 12 through Saturday, June 24. Both programs are designed to bring together individuals in Nashville each June for exclusive experiences, personal interactions with Country artists, and unforgettable live performances, as well as research opportunities in partnership with Vanderbilt University and other institutions.
“Hosting these camps is truly the highlight of the year for those involved, both for the campers, and those volunteering and doing the research,” said Lyndsay Cruz, ACM Lifting Lives Executive Director, and Taylor Wolf, ACM Lifting Lives Sr. Manager and Music Camp lead. “ACM Lifting Lives has placed an important emphasis on mental health awareness and research, and these camps allow our partners at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to conduct important research on Williams syndrome and autism, all while providing campers with an experience they can’t find anywhere else. The artists and songwriters in Nashville who donate their time to these amazing summer camps are who make this research and fulfilling experience for campers possible, and we thank them for their positive energy and excitement.”
Video Recap of ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp
ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp is a week-long residential program for individuals with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition (see MORE section for additional information), who are passionate about music. The program is put on through a partnership between ACM Lifting Lives®and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. ACM Lifting Lives® funds the costs of the camp in addition to providing scholarships to several campers, enabling the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to advance its mission of improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through research, training, and service. Thirty campers from all around the U.S., as well as one camper from Australia, participated in a full-slate of personalized activities, starting with the writing of an original song with some of Nashville’s top songwriters, and culminating with a live performance of the song on the Grand Ole Opry stage in front of a packed Opry House audience. Stars who joined the campers throughout the week include Lauren Alaina, Ross Copperman, Charles Esten, J.T. Harding, Tiera Kennedy, Madeline Merlo, Frank Ray, Restless Road, Taryn Papa, and Tigirlily Gold.
(L-R: J.T. Harding, Ross Copperman, and Restless Road co-writing “Wrap Me Up” with campers; Taryn Papa, Ross Copperman, and J.T. Harding at Ocean Way Studio with campers for the recording of “Wrap Me Up;” Lauren Alaina performing “Wrap Me Up” with the campers on the Grand Ole Opry stage.)
ACM Lifting Lives® Music Camp has a dual purpose of studying Williams syndrome while providing music enrichment through performance and education. This year, campers started the week by co-writing a song called “Wrap Me Up” with Ross Copperman, J.T. Harding, and Restless Road. With a brand-new song at the ready, campers recorded "Wrap Me Up” with the help of Taryn Papa, Copperman, and Harding at Ocean Way Nashville before performing the song on the Grand Ole Opry with Opry member Lauren Alaina – and earning a standing ovation from the crowd!
(L-R, Charles Esten performing for campers at Seacrest Studios; Frank Ray performing for campers at the Bluebird Cafe; Tigirlily Gold singing karaoke at Winners Bar and Grill with a camper.)
Throughout the week, campers were able to explore parts of Nashville and get an inside look at the music industry. Charles Esten joined the campers at Seacrest Studios at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Frank Ray played songs and answered questions from the campers at the Bluebird Cafe, and Tigirlily Gold joined campers for a night of karaoke at Winners Bar and Grill.
(L-R: Madeline Merlo with campers at the Wildhorse Saloon; Madeline Merlo posing with a camper at the Wildhorse Saloon; ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp participants in front of the “Let’s Lift Lives” sign at the ACM Headquarters; Tiera Kennedy with the campers at the ACM Headquarters.)
Other highlights include dancing at Wildhorse Saloon with Madeline Merlo and visiting the Academy of Country Music’s new Nashville headquarters in Wedgewood Houston for a pizza party and a performance from Tiera Kennedy.
Overlapping with ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp was the SENSE Theatre® ACM Lifting Lives® 2023 Summer Camp, where thirteen children with autism gathered in Nashville for a unique theatrical intervention research program designed to improve the social and emotional functioning of those on the spectrum, culminating with the campers participating in a performance of Circus del Sé, which tells the story of an adventurous boy from a small town with a dream of joining the circus. His wanderlust lands him on a train of self-discovery and new directions.
(L-R: Joshua Liechty of Girl Named Tom and Ross Copperman interacting with campers; Caleb Lee Hutchinson rehearsing with campers; Campers on stage performing Circus del Sé.)
This year Ross Copperman, Girl Named Tom, and Caleb Lee Hutchinson joined the campers during their rehearsals to learn a song and dance and offer encouragement as they prepared for their stage performances on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24. The program provides a safe place to learn, explore, and practice important life skills for individuals with and without autism.
The SENSE Theatre® ACM Lifting Lives® 2023 Summer Camp is a collaborative partnership among SENSE Theatre®, ACM Lifting Lives®, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, and the Vanderbilt University Department of Theatre. SENSE Theatre®, a non-profit 501(c)(3), was founded by Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., in January 2009 in Davis, California, to blend art and science and create a supportive, enjoyable, community-based treatment.
About Williams syndrome
Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone. It is characterized by strong verbal communication skills, highly social personalities, and a deep affinity for music. Many campers may also experience cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. For more information, please visit www.ACMLiftingLives.org.
About ACM Lifting Lives®
ACM Lifting Lives® is the philanthropic partner of the Academy of Country Music dedicated to improving lives through the power of music. We harness the strength of the Country Music community to provide aid in times of need, with a focus on health-related initiatives. With generous donations and the support of artists and fans, ACM Lifting Lives has funded national music therapy programs serving various mental and physical health organizations. Recipients include patients at children’s hospitals and other healthcare facilities, recovering veterans, people with Williams syndrome, and individuals with mental illness. For more information, please visit www.ACMLiftingLives.org.