Celebrated Organizations Join Forces and Kick-Off Groundbreaking New Initiative Supporting Young Black Members of the Nashville Music Community


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LOS ANGELES-NASHVILLE (June 15, 2023) – The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) announced today the official launch of their much-anticipated OnRamp program, a guaranteed income program for young Black members of the Nashville, TN music community, including artists and industry professionals, as well as the 20 members that will make up the program’s inaugural class. The up-and-coming musicians and industry professionals, all carefully selected from a robust pool of applicants, will be celebrated at a launch event at the Academy’s Music City headquarters, surrounded by Academy and BMAC leadership, Board members, and industry supporters, with OnRamp programming officially beginning shortly thereafter. Additionally, the first installment of the program’s monthly stipend will be delivered to participants’ accounts following the celebration.

The OnRamp program, focused on improving inclusivity and equity within Music City, aims to empower the next generation of leaders in the early stages of their careers by granting access to professional development opportunities, community mentorship, and other opportunities to increase personal growth, industry exposure, exclusive Academy membership panels and tentpole live events, and visibility with Academy Board members and industry leaders. Half of this year’s inaugural 20-person class are artists; the other half come from members of the industry and range from attorneys to audio engineers, publicists to business managers.

ACM x BMAC OnRamp, Inaugural Class:

  • Erica Baker, attorney
  • Jasmine Bavaro, management and audio engineer
  • Tylar Bryant, artist
  • Tatyana Carter, artist manager
  • Carmen Dianne, artist
  • Larysa Jaye, artist
  • The Kentucky Gentlemen, artist
  • Chasidy Lauderdale, business management
  • Cameron Leavy-Thorn, music business student
  • Tae Lewis, artist
  • Roz Malone, musician
  • Daisha McBride, artist
  • Kim Ortiz, music licensing
  • Nina Teapot Owens, creative consultant
  • Qualls, artist
  • Nick Tabron, artist
  • Kendall Warner, artist
  • Dede Neahn West, public relations
  • Julie Williams, artist
  • Amari Young, A&R

Upcoming programming for the OnRamp participants include a celebratory mixer and regular team mentorship sessions, as well as intensive quarterly workshops focusing on critical industry areas like artist development and production. Class members will also aim to play a role in major ACM and BMAC tentpole live events, including the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Honors, as well as other Music City industry events.

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Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Co-Founder/Co-Chair, BMAC said, ”... Getting on that Zoom call with the 20 participants selected as the inaugural class of the BMAC x ACM OnRamp program was a powerful moment for me.  So often we just talk about the issues, debate the problems and ideate around solutions, but that often doesn’t translate into direct action.  BMAC issued a call-to-action to Music Row last June, and in less than 12 months, BMAC and the ACM developed and provided seed funding for a program that will begin to create true access and provide resources to young Black aspiring artists and professionals.  We are celebrating the 3rd anniversary of The Show Must Be Paused by pressing play on a guaranteed income and mentorship program that will begin to level the playing field for the next generation of Black creatives.”

Damon Whiteside, CEO, ACM said, “I’m thrilled to be officially kicking off our OnRamp program, in partnership with the team at BMAC, and so excited to formally welcome these exceptional young professionals to our inaugural class, on behalf of the Academy Board of Directors and Officers, our DEI Task Force, our membership, and our staff. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this moment for many months now, since we started envisioning and developing this program with our LEVel Up Rising Leaders cohort, and I’m particularly proud of the Academy for continuing our commitment and taking another impactful step, on behalf of our industry and Nashville community, towards making Country Music a welcoming and rewarding place for everyone.”

(LEFT: L-R Shannon Sanders, Chair, ACM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force; Jade Sampson, ACM; Damon Whiteside, CEO, ACM; Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Co-Founder/Co-Chair, BMAC; Ann Haggart, Co-Founder, BreatheWithMe; Chuck Aly, Chairman, ACM Board of Directors; RIGHT: Damon Whiteside, CEO, ACM; Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Co-Founder/Co-Chair, BMAC. 

Images courtesy ACM and available in full resolution HERE.)

The OnRamp launch comes roughly a year after the release of the Black Music Action Coalition report, Three Chords & The ACTUAL Truth, which documented opportunities for improvement in Black representation and participation in the Country Music space. The report called for Music Row, the city of Nashville and its companies, organizations and individuals committed to change and equity to partner with BMAC in a transformational program for Black artists in Nashville. The Academy of Country Music is among the first industry leaders to recognize and help facilitate necessary changes within the music community.

The inaugural OnRamp program will initially be funded by the Black Music Action Coalition, the Academy of Country Music, and industry partners, and powered by social impact agency BreatheWithMe. The organizations are calling on corporations and companies operating in Nashville and beyond to make a financial contribution to OnRamp as a means of powering their future equity and inclusion programs. OnRamp is one of many guaranteed income programs BMAC will be announcing throughout the year.

The rollout of the monthly stipend to the OnRamp class participants will be done via Steady, the social impact technology platform co-founded by Shaquille O'Neal that aims to help workers earn more and improve their financial lives. ⁣Steady has a robust history of not just supporting and streamlining the distribution of guaranteed income programs, but also quantifying their impact from intervention to outcome. Through partnerships with more than 20 cities and counties nationwide, Steady has distributed more than $75 million in funding to over 20,000 participants.

For more information regarding the OnRamp program, please visit For more about the Black Music Action Coalition, please visit For more information on the Academy of Country Music, please visit