Jake Owen spends time with ACM Lifting Lives Campers. Photo by Daniel Andrews for Knoxville Focus.


Country singer Jake Owen took time out of his busy schedule to make a difference in the lives of people living with Williams Syndrome.  This was accomplished with the assistance of  The Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives program  and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Each year the ACM hosts a camp in Nashville designed with  the dual purpose of studying Williams Syndrome while providing music enrichment through performance and education.

On Wednesday,  June 26, the campers participated in creating a song from start to finish. Mr. Owen was in attendance and helped with the process. During his time spent with the individuals it became very apparent that this event created a lasting effect on Mr. Owen. “Iam  just a little piece of it (referring to the all the help that is involved). I am proud to be included because it is something I will always remember,” stated a humbled Mr. Owen.

One could immediately tell that Mr. Owen was not there to promote himself or his album. Anyone who was in the room could immediately tell that he was there for the campers.  I personally watched as he spoke in detail asking many questions with the Vanderbilt research team.  Also noted was how he signed autographs and posed for photos with every individual.  His high fives, shaking hands, and singing brought joy to the entire room. He was not in a rush at all.

Mr. Owen with Karina. Phot by Dan Andrews for Knoxville Focus

So what is Williams syndrome and why is the Academy of Country Music so interested in this disease?  According to http://www.williams-syndrome.org  “Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that is present at birth and can affect anyone.  It is characterized by medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities.  These occur side by side with striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music. ” Hence a main reason why the ACM is so active in this cause.  According to http://www.wschanginglives.org/  Williams syndrome,  affects approximately 1 in 10,000 and can decimate families physically, emotionally and most of all financially.”

In conclusion, while most people associate the Academy of Country Music with the award show, they are much more then that. They are a group of caring dedicated indivuals making a difference with the help of music. After all, in the end that is what being “Country” is all about!

#Disclosure The writer/photographer of this article is a member (proud member) of the Academy of Country Music.

Dan Andrews reporting