CMT Equal Access: Inclusive Spirit Of Country Series Announced, Concert Tonight

Kadeem Phillips

Country music is embracing diversity, and Kadeem Phillips, a manager who is part of CMT's Equal Access programs, is leading the charge. Phillips, CEO of Power Entertainment and Powerhouse Management, has launched a monthly, diversity-driven show called The Spirit of Country. July's showcase is 6- 9 p.m. tonight at The Dive Motel, 1414 Dickerson Pike in Nashville.

The line-up includes Equal Access artist Valerie Ponzio, Native American country artist Bryan Martin and Julie Williams. Admission is $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Tickets are available here.

Spirit of Country is a partnership between Phillips' Power Entertainment and Guidance Whiskey that Phillips wants to use to provide a stage for underrepresented country artists in Nashville.

"We saw what Black Opry was doing and was really inspired by it," Phillips said. "Being in the Equal Access Program, one of the biggest things I wanted to do as a manager is use my platform that I've already created in hip hop and R&B is also to give people in country, who are underrepresented that same opportunity."

Phillips held the first Spirit of Country show during CMA Fest at ACME on Lower Broadway. He described the event as "really great" and wants to expand from there. So, that's what he's doing. Following this month, each Spirit of Country show will be held at Analog in Hutton Hotel.

He wants to make sure people realize Spirit of Country isn't "just for Black artists."

"I believe that everyone should be able to (participate) because music doesn't have a (race) or sexuality or anything like that," he said. "By embodying that within the Spirit of Country, it represents what the true spirit of country should be. It should be music. It should be about the stories. It should be about the people. That's the way we can change the world is giving people the opportunity to tell their stories through their music."

As for tonight's show, Phillips promises it will be "super cool." He said the pool will be open, as will the bar, and that food will be available.

"We have some great country music planned from our wonderful acts," he said. "We're just trying to shake country up and give people who identify as country artists, no matter if they're represented within Nashville or not, a chance to make sure that their voices are heard."

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