May 23, 2013

Adults with disabilities gain entertainment industry experience through ACM, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Representatives from Vanderbilt and the Academy of Country Music welcome participants to the ACM Lifting Lives Series at Vanderbilt. Back row: Rondal Richardson, Entertainment Industry Relations Manager at Vanderbilt; Sheryl Rogers, VKC project manager for the ACM Lifting Lives Series; program participants Daniel Mirtes, Clancey Hopper, Seth Link, Jimmy Clark and Andrew Van Cleave; Tiffany Moon, ACM Executive Vice President and Managing Director; Jessica Gorham, Vanderbilt Development and Alumni Relations; and Tammy Vice, VKC musical director for the ACM Lifting Lives Series. Middle row: Participants Matthew Moore, Brian Werner, Channing Cason and Rachel Pearson. Front Row: Hannah Martin, manager of ACM Lifting Lives; songwriters Blair Daly and Hillary Lindsey; and Lori Badgett, Senior Vice President for City National.

The Academy of Country Music’s Lifting Lives organization is partnering with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center to launch an innovative vocational experience for young adults with developmental disabilities. On a monthly basis over 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.

Ten participants ages 20 to 35 will experience diverse aspects of the music business, including songwriting, mixing instrumentals and vocals, recording, public relations and performance. Workshops will include résumé writing, networking and interviewing.

“We’re thrilled at the fantastic opportunity that ACM Lifting Lives Series at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is providing,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, co-director of its University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor. “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.”

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 with the dual purpose of studying Williams syndrome and providing music enrichment through performance and education. Campers participate 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.

“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.”

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