MTSU Students look at Academy of Country Music Awards

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Michael Cartwright, CEO of Brentwood-based American Addiction Centers, left, congratulates MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee on Friday, April 13. Cartwright sponsored MTSU students and faculty to attend this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)
Glenn Weiss, director of Sunday’s Academy of Country Music telecast, conducts a master class with students from Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Media Arts on Friday at the ACM telecast arena in Las Vegas. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)

A select group of Middle Tennessee State University students and faculty will get a behind-the-scenes look at this weekend's activities with the Academy of Country Music Awards, thanks to the support of American Addiction Centers (AAC).

AAC's support of the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment's team in Las Vegas marks the second time this year that the company has aided the university's efforts to provide experiential experiences to students interested in the Recording Industry, Media Arts and Journalism. AAC also helped sponsor MTSU's student and faculty work earlier this year at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in New York City.

Michael Cartwright, CEO of the Brentwood, Tennessee-based American Addiction Centers, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee outlined the university's efforts at a joint news conference at AAC's 148-bed Desert Hope addiction treatment facility. They also spoke about future projects with the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, campus, including AAC providing educational resources to university students about substance abuse and treatment.

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"Our company is proud to support Dr. McPhee's commitment to provide top-notch experiences for its students at the ACMs and the Grammys," said Cartwright, who attended MTSU as an undergraduate. "We're both based near Music City, so we both appreciate the important role that country music and the recording industry plays in Nashville and around the world."

McPhee echoed Cartwright's comments and complimented the college's top administrators -- Dean Ken Paulson, Media Arts Chair Billy Pittard and Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel -- for designing opportunities for students that build both skills and resumes.

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"Thanks to support from great alums like Michael Cartwright, as well as ACM CEO Pete Fisher, MTSU offers students many experiences that other institutions only talk or dream about," McPhee said. "This trip will be a defining moment in the lives of these students."

AAC's support, McPhee said, allowed Pittard to bring five students and a faculty mentor, assistant professor Robert Gordon, to shadow the ACM's preparations for Sunday's national telecast of the 53rd awards, which will honor and showcase the biggest names and emerging talent in country music. The students also visited the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas just before the ACM weekend's activities.

Also, Keel will co-host a "Change the Conversation: ACM Edition" event in Las Vegas on Saturday morning on gender inequality in country music. In 2014, Keel, Leslie Fram and Tracy Gershon formed the Music Row group about in response to increased difficulty of getting women played on country radio, signed to record companies, or booked on some high-profile events.

Keel, Fram and Gershon will be joined by singer and songwriter Cam at the event, set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the David Copperfield Theater at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

"This trip is an opportunity for some of our top Media Arts students to engage with a national entertainment event, just as our Recording Industry students participate in the Grammy Awards each year," Paulson said. "This builds confidence and provides invaluable perspective on how the best in the business do their jobs."

Cartwright and McPhee, meanwhile, also announced AAC's contribution of student-centric information about substance abuse prevention and treatment that MTSU will provide students through the university's Health Promotion Office.

"Education is the most effective deterrent to substance abuse," Cartwright said.

The information, which will be posted on MTSU's website and provided in print formats, was written by AAC's Lauren Vill, who served as program director for a community-based HIV/AIDS and cancer nonprofit in San Francisco.

"This objective, and provider-agnostic, material will be a great resource to students seeking answers to challenging questions," McPhee said.

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Academy of Country Music Awards, Las Vegas, MTSU, WGNS
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