ACM Lifting Lives Series begins at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD)

May 6, 2013

 ACM Lifting Lives has partnered once again with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD) to launch an innovative vocational experience for young adults with developmental disabilities. On a monthly basis, for the next eight months, the 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 23 to 35, were selected for this pilot project, and the first session, on songwriting, was held April 23. Nashville songwriter Tammy Vice is 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.