When the Academy of Country Music opened its new Nashville facility on Wednesday (Dec. 14), they brought along the organization's reigning New Male Artist of the Year and New Female Artist of the Year to help celebrate.

"Being from Texas myself, I'm thrilled to have the awards in Texas next year," Parker McCollum said during the office's ribbon-cutting ceremony. "And I know Lainey [Wilson] and I are happy to co-host because that's what you get to do after you win New Artist of the Year."

For nearly 60 years, the Academy of Country Music was based on the West Coast. The move to Music City has been many years in the making and led the ACM team to find their new home in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood.

"We were based in Los Angeles for almost 60 years," ACM CEO David Whiteside said. "We formed out there for a very specific purpose. It was no easy task or decision for our board of directors to uproot and move the organization to Music City, but it makes sense. We are very happy to be here, and I feel like we're already feeling the results of that by getting to be part of the fabric of this community and around the artist community."

Whiteside hopes that the new home not only serves as the office for his team but as a central space where artists can regularly visit.

"We want artists to feel like this is their home, as well," he said. "A big piece of [the move] was, 'How do we take our country and western roots from Los Angeles and plant it in Nashville and make it feel like Hollywood meets Nashville?' I think we accomplished that. We want to see the music industry and artists in and out of this space. That's what's great about being in the heart of Music City."

ACM Headquarters Ribbon Cutting
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images for ACM
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Whiteside has big plans for ways the space will be utilized. Situated beside First Horizon Park, the home to the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball club, the ACM plans to host events in the park's outfield. They also plan to launch a new concert series, hoping to bring more music fans into the area.

"The goal when we began [in 1966] was to promote artists and initiatives on the West Coast," he explained. "Back then, there was quite a faction between West Coast country artists and Nashville country artists. Times have changed quite a bit. When I started in 2020, this was my first order of business."

The pandemic put those plans on hold for a long time, but the extra time gave Whiteside and his team plenty of time to find their ideal space. The headquarters is filled with memorabilia from throughout the five-decade history of the organization. The office also contains a specially-designed content creation area, allowing artists to stop by and create new content for all of the Academy of Country Music's platforms.

"This is a great day for Nashville and for you to be here while we go into our next, greatest chapter," said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. "Making your way here from the West Coast is a great sign of Nashville's changing role in the industry. I don't really quote Tim McGraw very often. I will not try to sing. But his lyric, 'Nashville wouldn't be Nashville without you,' is completely true."

Lainey Wilson also took to the stage to reflect on the breakthrough year that led to her ACM Award victory.

"I won my first three ACM Awards this year, performed on the show, and I did it all in a football stadium streaming [live] on Amazon Prime Video," she said. "When I tell you my folks back home really thought I made it then, they were like, 'Alright, she's finally doing something.'"

It's a path that eventually led her to a role on the hit television series Yellowstone for season five. 

"Being on television was also one of my dreams, let alone the biggest TV show around right now," she continued. "If y'all haven't watched it, y'all better get on it. I'm probably going to be on the prayer list in the next episode."

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