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New York Grammy trip hits the high notes for MTSU ...

New York Grammy trip hits the high notes for MTSU [+VIDEO]

NEW YORK — Even before The Recording Academy opened the red carpet Sunday, Jan. 28, for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said his university walked away a winner.

McPhee, reflecting on the fifth annual Grammy trip by MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, said this year’s venture again helped raise the profile of the university among recording industry leaders and reconnect with alumni.

“The quality of our recording industry program speaks for itself, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it in person while we’re with executives and artists at the biggest weekend for the music business,” McPhee said. (You can read about MTSU’s Grammy nominees here.)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, lower left, applauds Emmylou Harris as she arrives for the Americana Music Association tribute concert in her honor Saturday night at New York’s City Winery. MTSU partnered with the association to present the event. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, lower left, applauds Emmylou Harris as she arrives for the Americana Music Association tribute concert in her honor Saturday night at New York’s City Winery. MTSU partnered with the association to present the event. (MTSU pohoto by Andrew Oppmann)

McPhee, Dean Ken Paulson and Department of Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel had even more opportunities to tell MTSU’s story as the university again helped present a pre-Grammy concert with the Americana Music Association late Saturday night, this time honoring music great Emmylou Harris.

A host of Americana artists, including Keb’ Mo’, Brandi Carlisle, Jennifer Nettles, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Steve Earle, performed Harris’ music in a tribute revue before a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at New York’s City Winery.

McPhee hosted an MTSU Alumni Association reception before the concert, which attracted graduates from Media and Entertainment and other colleges. Attendees included alumna Carla Moore, a vice president for Home Box Office, and Jasmine Sanders, co-host of the nationally syndicated D.L. Hughley radio show.

Paulson, who brokered MTSU’s partnership with the Americana Music Association, appeared on stage to start the Jan. 27 concert, extending the university’s congratulations to Harris and telling the New York audience about his college.

“This weekend’s events, and our similar outreach throughout the year, are critical to engaging the industries that hold the future for our talented graduates,” he said.

Americana artist Keb’ Mo’, center, greets MTSU and Americana Music Association partners, including, from left, Association Executive Director Jed Hilly; MTSU Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; and MTSU Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson at a pre-Grammy event in New York. (MTSU Photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Americana artist Keb’ Mo’, center, greets MTSU and Americana Music Association leaders at pre-Grammy event in New York Jan. 27. From left are American Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly; MTSU Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; and MTSU Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Jed Hilly, the association’s executive director, said the annual pre-Grammy concerts, also co-presented by Vector Management, have “really become a wonderful tradition.” He also applauded the Americana format that MTSU’s public radio station, WMOT Roots Radio 89.5, adopted in 2016.College of Media and Entertainment logo

“MTSU has a great program for students, simple as that,” Hilly said. “The Americana Music Association could not partner with a better institution than MTSU to support the next generation of artists and music business professionals.”

MTSU alumnus Garry Hood, who has spent the last three decades as the head stage manager for the biggest award shows on TV, was in charge behind the scenes at Sunday’s Grammys event.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)


MTSU honors The Secret Sisters at annual pre-Grammy event [+VIDEO]

Jan. 27, 2018

NEW YORK — The Secret Sisters, an Americana duo that includes MTSU alumna Laura Rogers, was honored Saturday by the College of Media and Entertainment at its annual industry event preceding the Grammy Awards.

Recording Industry graduate Laura Rogers and her sister, Lydia, are nominated for Best Folk Album in Sunday’s 60th annual Grammy Awards. They shared their excitement, and some life lessons, at a Manhattan venue crowded with industry executives and university alumni.

“We’re shocked, we feel like deer in the headlights, and we don’t know what to expect, so we’re just taking it moment by moment and trying to relish each in the sense of excitement,” Laura Rogers told Recording Industry chair Beverly Keel in an on-stage interview.

“More than anything, I feel a sense of redemption,” she said. “It’s a big honor for us.”

The sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, had a difficult path to the success celebrated during this weekend’s Grammy festivities. Catching on shortly after Rogers graduated from MTSU, they went from touring with Bob Dylan to losing their label, purging their team and filing bankruptcies.

MTSU alumna Laura Rogers, left, and sister Lydia pose with President Sidney A. McPhee Saturday during the during the College of Media and Entertainment’s annual pre-Grammys event Saturday. The Rogers sisters’ group, The Secret Sisters is nominated for Best Folk Album in the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU alumna Laura Rogers, left, and sister Lydia pose with President Sidney A. McPhee Saturday during the during the College of Media and Entertainment’s annual pre-Grammys event Saturday. The Rogers sisters’ group, The Secret Sisters is nominated for Best Folk Album in the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Yet those hardships became the material for the songs for their third album, a crowd-funded project that would garner the nomination.

“The Secret Sisters’ success story is one of ups and downs that is truly a lesson in perseverance and believing in yourself,” Keel said. “Instead of giving up, Laura and her sister Lydia kept fighting for what they believed in, driving by their passion for music, and their hard work has resulted in this Grammy recognition.

“That is certainly something we want to instill in our students. Laura continues to make MTSU proud and I am thrilled we are honoring her in this way.”

President Sidney A. McPhee joined Keel in congratulating Laura for not only the nomination, but demonstrating the grit and perseverance found in so many MTSU students and alumni.

“Laura is a perfect example of what we mean when we talk about True Blue spirit,” he said.

Ken Paulson, dean of the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment, left, addresses the crowd gathered at the college’s annual pre-Grammys event Saturday, Jan. 27. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Ken Paulson, dean of the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment, left, addresses the crowd gathered at the college’s annual pre-Grammys event Saturday, Jan. 27. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Laura Rogers is among an array of MTSU former students honored at this year’s Grammys:

  • Wayne Haun, (’94), from the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts, produced three of the Best Roots Gospel Album nominees.
  • Jason Hall, (’00), engineered Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” is included in the Grammy nomination for best country album.
  • Former student Sam Hunt’s chart-busting “Body Like a Back Road” is nominated for best country solo performance and best country song Grammys.
  • Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, is nominated for Grammys in the best country duo/group performance and best country album for “You Look Good” and “Heart Break,” respectively.
  • Two-time Grammy winner Torrance Esmond, the 2003 MTSU music business graduate who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” also will be looking for gold for his work on best children’s album nominee “Rise Shine #Woke” by the Alphabet Rockers.

Laura Rogers described her years at MTSU as “really transformative,” adding, “It put me in a place where I had absolutely, continuous access to music on every level…

“The great thing about MTSU is that they aren’t stuck in one old way of doing things. They keep up with an ever-changing industry so that they are modern and up to speed on everything,” she said.

Her advice to students now? “Take it all in. Go to your classes. Do your homework. Respect your teachers.”

Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Beverly Keel, right, chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, asks a question of MTSU alumna Laura Rogers, center, whose band The Secret Sisters, with her sister Lydia, left, is nominated for Best Folk Album in the 60th annual Grammy Awards. MTSU honored Laura Rogers during the College of Media and Entertainment’s annual pre-Grammys event Jan. 27. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Beverly Keel, right, chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, asks a question of MTSU alumna Laura Rogers, center, whose band The Secret Sisters, with her sister Lydia, left, is nominated for Best Folk Album in the 60th annual Grammy Awards. MTSU honored Laura Rogers during the College of Media and Entertainment’s annual pre-Grammys event Jan. 27. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)


MTSU students pitch in for MusiCares, the biggest pre-Grammys event

Jan. 26, 2018

NEW YORK Middle Tennessee State University was out front Friday night, Jan. 26, as Fleetwood Mac was honored as this year’s Person of the Year by MusiCares, the centerpiece charitable event of the Grammys.

Students from MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment worked behind the scenes at Radio City Music Hall as industry leaders and artists assembled to applaud the band, the first group in MusiCares history to receive what was previously a singular honor.

Middle Tennessee State University students from its College of Media and Entertainment are in New York City for behind-the-scenes experience in support of events related to the 60th annual Grammy Awards celebration. Pictured Friday, Jan. 26, at Radio City Music Hall, from left, are Foster Riggs, senior; President Sidney A. McPhee; Michael Ryan May, senior; LB Rogers, senior; professor Matt Foglia; and Siara Strickland, senior. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Middle Tennessee State University students from its College of Media and Entertainment are in New York City for behind-the-scenes experience in support of events related to the 60th annual Grammy Awards celebration. Pictured Friday, Jan. 26, at Radio City Music Hall, from left, are MTSU senior Foster Riggs, President Sidney A. McPhee, senior Michael Ryan May, senior LB Rogers, professor Matt Foglia and senior Siara Strickland. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

This year also marks the first time the university was able to participate as a sponsor for the biggest pre-Grammys event, thanks to the generosity of Brentwood-based American Addiction Centers, led by former MTSU student Michael Cartwright.

Cartwright, along with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Dean Ken Paulson and Department of Recording Industry Chair Beverly Keel, are on hand to represent the university at the event.

“Our involvement at MusiCares takes MTSU’s presence at the Grammys to the next level,” McPhee said, “and it gives these students a closer look at one of the industry’s top events.”

Two-time Grammy winner Fleetwood Mac’s most successful lineup — comprising Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Stevie Nicks — were honored for their significant creative accomplishments and their longtime support of a number of charitable causes, including MusiCares.

The Recording Academy, which runs the Grammy Awards, turns to MusiCares to provide a safety net of assistance for musicians in times of need. The charity’s Emergency Financial Assistance Program provides critical funds for music-industry members struggling with financial, medical or personal crises.

American Addiction Centers has facilities in nine states with treatment services for men and women with behavioral health disorders, including disorders associated with obesity.

MTSU students working the event have been helping with the silent auction, putting together gift bags for attendees and acting as VIP concierges.

“We pride ourselves on being able to offer real world interactions to our students,” said Matt Foglia, a recording industry professor who accompanied the students. “Sometimes, those take place close to home, like Bonnaroo, while others take place away from home, at events like MusiCares.

“The students are so excited to be even just a tiny part of something as big and known as MusiCares and the Grammys,” he continued. “Being able to see the pride in their faces is a thrill as a teacher.”

Senior Michael Ryan May, who described the experience as “incredibly exciting,” added, “MTSU continually outdoes itself with the opportunities it presents to the student body.”College of Media and Entertainment logo

Paulson said this marks the fifth year that MTSU has travelled to the Grammys to underscore its strong ties and alumni success in the recording industry. It’s the first trip by MTSU to New York for the Grammys; the ceremony moved there from Los Angeles for its 60th anniversary.

“Our program has now gone coast-to-coast with student opportunities — and college visibility — in American’s major media and entertainment centers,” Paulson said.

Keel, who also serves as a board member of the academy’s Nashville chapter, said she was grateful for the organization “providing this unforgettable opportunity to MTSU students.”

“This has been a life-changing event for them,” she said.

Several MTSU alumni are also among the many nominees for Grammys this year. Find out who they are at http://mtsunews.com/mtsu-grammys-2018.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)


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