The 4th Annual ACM LIFTING LIVES MUSIC CAMP was held here in Nashville from June 23rd – 29th. The week-long program hosts campers from all over the country who have Williams Syndrome and are talented in music. The camp has a two-fold purpose, one is to study Williams Syndrome and the other is to provide musical enrichment for the campers through performance, interaction and education. The entire week and all costs are funded by the ACM Lifting Lives fund. Due to the generosity of ACM Lifting Lives, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities is able to advance their mission of improving the quality of life for individuals with Williams Syndrome and their families through research, training and service.

The week was full of events giving the campers an opportunity to share their musical gifts with some of Nashville’s brightest and best stars. The week started when the campers joined Jerrod Niemann & Lance Miller for a songwriting workshop. The campers co-wrote a song with Jerrod & Lance called “Living on Island Time”. It is a great, tropical, fun, summertime song, which the campers contributed a lot to.

On Tuesday, the campers were treated to a two hour private party with Lauren Alaina at the world famous Wildhorse Saloon. Lauren was absolutely amazing with the campers and took so much time with each and every one of them. She posed for pictures, signed autographs, did impromptu sing-alongs, and oh yeah, LOTS of hugs. They all loved her, and the cool thing was she loved them right back. We sat down with Lauren for a few minutes after the event to talk about the camp and her new single too…

Tim Hall of Airplay Weekly: Wow Lauren what a great event, and this is your second time here, is that correct?

Lauren Alaina: Yes, this is my second year at the ACM Lifting Lives Camp and it is wonderful, I feel really blessed to be able to be a part of it. I hope I can continue to be a part of it because it really makes my day when I get to come out here and hang with them! I get to hang out with a group of people who have Williams Syndrome, which basically means that they’re the happiest people in the entire world! They’re always smiling and happy, and they’re singing all the time and they love music! They’re my kind of people!

AW: That’s great! It was awesome to see their reaction to you as you came in the room. They immediately started singing one of your songs, “Georgia Peaches”, How does that make you feel? I mean I’m sure you get fans that sing it back to you in a crowd, but coming into an environment like this, with the campers, just knowing that your songs have so impacted their lives, how does that make you feel?

Lauren Alaina: Walking into a room and having people sing a song, your songs, your personal songs to you, is the best feeling in the world. Especially when it’s this kind of environment! I had a lot of them tell me that I was their inspiration and it kind of made me think, Wow! That’s so sweet. They’re MY inspiration and to them, I’m theirs, so it’s really cool how that works. They’re singing my songs to me, and just smiling and hugging me and wanting to dance with me and I’m like, these are my kind of people, this is my kind of crew right here! They’re awesome and it’s a wonderful thing to be apart of.

AW: One of the most special moments for me was when the one camper came up and wanted to sing YOU a song, you want to tell our readers about that?

Lauren Alaina: Sure, their was a guy, a young man named Nick, he came up and had a fedora on and a button up, he looked very nice! He said to me “I’ve prepared a song for you!” and I was like “Oh okay!” and he started singing (Lauren begins singing the song You Are So Beautiful) and I just blushed! I mean, I sing to people all the time, but I don’t usually have people singing to me! So it was just the sweetest thing ever, he was so cute and awesome. Its just experiences like that, I’ll keep with me forever. If I hadn’t been apart of this camp, I wouldn’t have that experience. So it’s really touching and amazing. It’s wonderful.

AW: Awesome! Well, while we are here, let’s talk about your new music! Your new single is out, Barefoot and Buckwild! You have always been sassy and have always had great music, but this new single seems to have a little more edge than stuff I’ve heard from you in the past. I’m sure part of that is because you had something to do with writing it! So, talk about it.

Lauren Alaina: {laughs} Barefoot and Buckwild is my new single, it’s definitely a little more “in your face”, not like in a mean way, but It’s very sassy! It’s very forward, and that’s how I am! I actually had a part in writing it, so I guess that’s why it’s a little more sassy than most of the songs I’ve had up to this point. I’ve been writing a lot, for my sophomore album, which will be out in December, so I’m super excited! I don’t know how many of my songs will make the cut, but if only Barefoot and Buckwild made it, I had such a great learning experience through it all. Everyday is like a new blessing, so it’s really cool that I started out as a little 16-year-old girl on American Idol and now I’ve become an artist, and now I’ve become a songwriter! Everyday I get to learn something new about my career and who I want to be as an artist and songwriter. It’s really cool!

AW: The new project that is coming in December, can we expect more songs like “Barefoot and Buckwild”?

Lauren Alaina: There will be more songs similar to “Barefoot and Buckwild” obviously different topics, but that’s kind of the feel of it. Then there are a few beautiful ballads that I’ve been writing and other people have submitted as well.
At this point it’s kind of all up in the air because we haven’t really put the album together. There is so much material that we have to narrow down and decide what fits to make an album. Because it all has to kind of go together, you know, it has to flow together. At this point, I’m just writing and adding to the pile and then we will sit down and figure out what’s going to make it. We should be making that decision pretty soon!

AW: Well best of luck! Thank you so much for your time, and thank you for the love and sincerity you have shown all of the campers here at the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp.

Lauren Alaina: Thank you!

On Wednesday, the campers were treated to their very own recording session at Ocean Way Studio, where they cut the song they co-wrote on Monday. The single was produced by one of Nashville’s hottest producers, Ross Copperman. Ross was great with the kids taking time to talk to each of them and answer any questions they had, about virtually anything; he’s a classy guy. As the campers were gathered around and listening to the tracks Ross had cut earlier that day, country superstar, Jake Owen strolls in. When the campers saw him, they started screaming and cheering and of course some started singing his current number one song, “Anywhere with You”, and of course, Jake joined right along in with them. Jake, like the artists before him was gracious and took photos, signed autographs and answered questions. He also took time to sing with the campers on the track they co-wrote, which is something they will never forget!

Thursday night was “Campers Karaoke” onstage with Love & Theft at Winner’s Bar on Division. The campers are so great, so full of life and so happy. To see their love for the music is nothing short of inspiring.

The week culminated with a performance on the Grand Ole Opry. All of the campers were invited to join Jerrod Niemann, on stage, to sing the song they co-wrote, “Living on Island Time”. How cool is that? The Grand Ole Opry, with Jerrod Niemann, singing a song you wrote, it’s a dream come true, and it couldn’t have happened for a more deserving, caring group of kids.

The ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp is a one of a kind of event. I was touched and honored to be there to observe the compassion, love and care that everyone in the organization showed the campers. I was equally moved by the genuine care shown by the artists, it’s just one other reason I love country music.

To get more information about ACM Lifting Lives please visit their website atwww.ACMLiftingLives.org.

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