Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Our commitment

Throughout our almost-60 year history, the Academy of Country Music has always proudly stood as a progressive, welcoming organization for all, including an active, community-leading commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stretching across all facets of the industry.

We know change may not come overnight, but as our mission statement reads, we are and remain “relentlessly committed to creating a more inclusive environment for underrepresented groups, encompassing but not limited to, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, LatinX and Women in the Country Music industry, from the boardroom to the stage.


  • The Academy launches OnRamp, a guaranteed income program for 20 young, Black members of the music community, including artists and industry professionals, in Nashville, Tennessee, in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC). The program derived from the inaugural LEVel Up cohort.
  • BRELAND becomes the first winner of the ACM Lift Every Voice Award at the 16th ACM Honors. The honor recognizes a Country Music artist, duo/group, industry leader or affiliate/partner who plays a pivotal role in elevating underrepresented voices throughout the Country Music genre, transcending demographics and geography. 
  • ACM Board member and former DEI Task Force Chair, Shannon Sanders creates the steering committee, a small group derived from the task force intended to further important conversations to help grow and challenge more inclusion opportunities within the Academy).
  • ACM DEI Task Force renames to the Lifting Voices Committee.


  • The ACM Awards return to Las Vegas in a historic, game-changing partnership with Amazon and livestreaming all across the globe on Prime Video.
  • The show, co-hosted by 2021 New Male Artist of the Year Jimmie Allen and features 22 live performances by an enormously diverse lineup of 28 artists, including Allen, BRELAND, Blanco Brown, Brooke Eden, Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, and Brittney Spencer. Presenters included Mickey Guyton and comedian Guy Torry.
  • The live Red Carpet Pre-Show, co-hosted by Zuri Hall and Elaina Smith, also streamed live on Prime Video and featured a performance by Kat & Alex.
  • The Academy launches LEVel Up: Lifting Every Voice to expand the horizons of Country Music. 


  • ACM Awards head writer Amberia Allen returns for a second year, joined by a director Marcelo Gama, a long-time, Emmy Award-winning director of the Latin Grammys making his Country show directorial debut.
  • The Academy puts together a list of diverse production resources within Nashville, used by Dick Clark Productions when hiring local crew for the April 2021 show.
  • ACM joins forces with Diversify the Stage, Berklee College of Music, and KORG for exclusive virtual member event, “People Power: Centering Equity and Relationships in a Music Industry Career” on October 27, featuring Brandon Blackwell of Nicki Minaj and Big Sean's teams; Becky Gardenhire, WME; Ali Harnell, Live Nation Women, and Carmen Walker, RCA Inspiration, and moderated by Nada Taha of The Country Chart Show on Apple Music.


  • The 55th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards were held in Nashville in September, the first major in-person awards event to take place in the U.S. since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier that spring.
  • Amberia Allen joins Academy of Country Music Awards as show writer – the first BIPOC female writer for the awards show.
  • Mickey Guyton’s performance on the show makes history, the first Black female Country artist to perform her own song on the ACM show
  • The Academy develops relationships with and seeks intern applicants from HBCUs and diverse universities. Currently, almost 20% of our 80+ intern partners are HBCUs.
  • Member of the Academy’s Board of Directors’ Executive Committee to serve as Chair or Vice Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, to ensure a direct pipeline to decision making and ensure diversity initiatives are visible.


  • In 2018, the Academy formally launched a Task Force, comprised of executives from across the Country Music industry, to steer efforts.
  • Goal-defining, intentional mission statement drafted, formally approved, and widely circulated to build a road map forward for the work to come
  • Internal evaluation and measurement to set goals for diversification and recruitment of members from underrepresented backgrounds
  • Recommendations for reviewing policies
  • Internal workshop with Culture Shift, an award-winning consultancy agency

2024 Lifting Voices Chairs:

COUNCIL Members:

  • Becky Gardenhire, WME
  • Ben Kline, Warner Music Nashville
  • Beverly Keel, MTSU
  • Bonnie Baker, Bonnie Baker Management
  • BRELAND, Artist
  • Chris Lisle, CLLD LLC
  • Chuck Aly, Country Aircheck
  • Cris Lacy, Warner Music Nashville
  • Cyndi Forman, Universal Music Publishing Group
  • Elaina Smith, "Nights with Elaina"
  • Erika Wollam Nichols, Bluebird Cafe
  • Gil Beverly, Academy of Country Music
  • Jackie Stevens, "Nights with Elaina"
  • James Marsh, Warner Music Nashville
  • Jon Loba, BMG Nashville
  • Lisa Chader, The Change Agent-Cy
  • Shannon Sanders, BMI
  • Stephanie Davenport (Vice Chair), Warner Music Nashville
  • Tuwisha 'Wish' Rogers-Simpson, Wish Factor Consulting LLC
  • Vipin Reddy (Chair), Universal Music Publishing Group
  • Damon Whiteside, Academy of Country Music
  • Ebie McFarland, Essential Broadcast Media
  • Jennifer Davis, Academy of Country Music
  • Kortney Toney, Academy of Country Music
  • Lyndsay Cruz, ACM Lifting Lives
  • Tommy Moore, Academy of Country Music

The Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force has created individual work groups, each individually focused on various stakeholder groups – internally, externally, and across the industry. They are:

  • Artists
  • Fans
  • Industry
  • Community
  • ‘Be the Change’ (Board of Directors, Membership, DEI Task Force, Staff, Organizational Processes and Procedures)

Core tenets of our plan include:

  • Training and interactive learning experiences with lasting impact for each stakeholder group
  • Creating talent pipelines of diverse candidates for every type of role across the industry
  • Mentorship
  • Creating access to “preview” various types of roles within the industry through hands-on opportunities such as job shadowing and internships
  • Immersion in the communities in which we live and work to build relationships that will cultivate a sense of trust and inclusion within the country music genre (i.e. at shows, events, job opportunities, etc.)
  • Continually refining our operational approach to ensure we are maximizing opportunities for economic advancement of minority- and women-owned businesses

Thank you to our collaborators who continue to help support the Academy’s DEI efforts.