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Keel named recording industry department chair

MTSU Professor Beverly Keel, an award-winning music journalist and former recording industry executive, has been named chair of the Department of Recording Industry, effective Aug. 1.

Keel, an MTSU alumna, recently returned to the College of Mass Communication after taking a leave of absence to serve as senior vice president of media and artist relations for Universal Music Group Nashville.

Beverly Keel

While at UMG Nashville, she developed extensive media campaigns for its chart-topping roster of artists that includes Lionel Richie, Scotty McCreery, Sugarland, Jamey Johnson, Josh Turner, Kip Moore and many more.

“I am honored to be named chair of the nation’s most prestigious recording industry program,” Keel said. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with the department’s talented and experienced faculty and staff, who are dedicated to preparing students for the changing music industry environment.

“MTSU has played such an important role in my life, both as a student and professor, so it is extremely fulfilling to be able to work closely with students and give back to the university that has given me so much.”

Keel, a popular culture commentator who has covered the music industry for more than two decades for national and regional media outlets, also served as the director of the university’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies for four years.

She is the past president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music-US.

“Professor Keel brings a breath and depth of professional and academic expertise to this important administrative position. She’s spent many years in both industry and a wide variety of academic positions,” said Dr. Roy Moore, dean of the MTSU College of Mass Communication.

“Her expertise will complement our college’s team well, including outreach into the professional community as well as fundraising and development. Her knowledge and skills in First Amendment issues, particularly her experience as director of the Seigenthaler Chair, will serve her well, not only in the journalism community but in electronic media and the recording industry too.”

Keel spent a decade as the Nashville correspondent for People magazine and served as the celebrity columnist at The Tennessean for two years, where she won the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism.

She was an editor of American Profile magazine and wrote cover stories on former President Jimmy Carter, the Rev. Billy Graham, former First Lady Laura Bush, TV giant Andy Griffith, author John Grisham and football great Joe Namath. She also served as editor of CMT Life.

Her work has appeared in InStyle, New York, Oxford American, Weekly Standard, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Country Music, New Country, Country Music Today and Music Row magazines.

recording industry logo webA former music industry columnist for the Nashville Scene and Nashville Banner newspapers, her journalism has received awards from the Associated Press and the Association of American Newsweeklies.

Keel has served as a commentator on country music personalities and events and has been featured on ABC’s “Six Degrees of Martina McBride” and CBS’ “48 Hours Mystery” as well as numerous shows on VH-1, Bravo, CMT, GAC and other networks.

A graduate of Leadership Music, she currently serves as a board member of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and is a member of the Leadership Nashville Class of 2013. She is a past member of the Nashville Mayor’s Music Council and past board member of The Recording Academy.

Keel also is an editorial board member of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and a member of the International Women’s Forum.

A Nashville native, Keel earned her bachelor’s degree from MTSU and her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Professor Bill Crabtree will continue serving as interim chair of the Department of Recording Industry through Aug. 1.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)