Nashville effort aims to grow country music diversity
The Academy of Country Music unveiled a revolutionary program last week to identify and support young Black country music artists and businesspeople.
Details: The initiative, called OnRamp, will provide 20 aspiring music professionals a guaranteed monthly stipend of $1,000 for one year and, perhaps more importantly, access to the exclusive Music Row infrastructure of record labels, publishers, booking agencies and trade groups.
- OnRamp is a partnership between the ACM and the Black Music Action Coalition, which last year released a report documenting opportunities for improving representation in country music.
The big picture: OnRamp comes amid broader efforts to improve diversity within the country music genre.
- The Black Opry is a groundbreaking organization that produces concerts featuring ascending Black artists.
- The Country Music Association included a showcase featuring LGBTQ+ artists at CMA Fest last year.
- The Americana Music Association made improving diversity a focal point at its recent conferences.
What he's saying: ACM CEO Damon Whiteside said the partnership was a way for his organization to commit "to making the statement, 'Country Music is for Everyone,' a reality."
Zoom out: OnRamp offers an opportunity for a new generation of Black musicians who see Nashville as a springboard into the industry.
- They will follow a long line of Black artists who helped shape Nashville's musical identity.
Driving the news: The Fisk Jubilee Singers are famously the reason Nashville earned the nickname Music City during a performance in front of Queen Victoria.
- Jefferson Street was the original live music corridor in Nashville, with a string of clubs hosting the country's most popular artists.
- How groundbreaking was the Jefferson Street live music scene? Jimi Hendrix got his start in clubs on Jefferson Street as a backup player for Little Richard.
The latest: A wave of new country and Americana artists are moving those genres forward: Breland, Allison Russell, Mickey Guyton, Chapel Hart, Jimmie Allen and Yola have established themselves critically and commercially.
- One of the most acclaimed albums out of Nashville over the last year came from the Tennessee State University marching band, which was recognized with a Grammy Award for best roots gospel album.
🎶 As Black History Month draws to a close, we wanted to make a Music Monday playlist to spotlight a sometimes undersung part of Nashville's musical heritage.
- Be sure to like it on Spotify and email us with any songs you'd like us to add.
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