It may be tough for you to picture (at least it is for me), but I want you to imagine something crazy. You are in your senior year at MTSU, and you’ve just hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and got word that you’ve been nominated for a Grammy Award.
Yeah, those Grammy Awards.
In the music industry, being nominated for one of these prestigious awards often represents the peak of one’s career. It’s a massive deal. If I were to be nominated for a Grammy, I would feel secure in the industry and would ride the success by making it my sole priority. Most would feel that school is no longer necessary and drop out, like many have before.
For Brytavious “Tay Keith” Chambers, and his accomplished team of MTSU students and grads including Nicholas Brownlow and Tyland Jackson, however, they saw the value of completing their degree at Middle Tennessee State University and stuck with it.
When nominations were announced for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards in late 2018, Tay Keith’s name was listed as for his production work on “Sicko Mode,” the extremely popular track performed by superstars Travis Scott and Drake. While MTSU is no stranger to Grammy nominations and wins, a current student playing a major role in a No. 1 hit is a huge deal.
Despite that success, Chambers, Brownlow, and Jackson all stayed dedicated to their education and completed their degrees.
“There wouldn’t be any point for me to come to college if I didn’t want to finish it – I could have just focused 100% on music. By my last week of college, I had my first number one single, so it didn’t make any sense to drop out.”
Nicholas Brownlow, who serves as Public Relations Director for Tay Keith and their brand, Drumatized, graduated in May 2019 with a degree in Concrete Industry Management. While it seems like an outside-the-box choice for someone in the music industry, he sees it as a great backup plan if decides to make a career change in the future.
Tyland Jackson, who serves as Tay’s stylist and creative direction guy, is the most recent graduate, walking across the stage in December 2019. He received a Marketing degree from the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, completing the goal he laid out because of his family’s support.
“My mom, my dad, and my grandparents were all behind me to finish school. We were near the finish line when [the success] happened, so why not finish it?”
Perhaps the most impressive part of their accomplishments is how the trio balanced classes alongside working the music business and attending events such as the Grammys and the BET Music Awards.
“I remember having a flight from New York, and I had a test the same day. So, I flew back from New York that morning, went home, then went straight to class. It was crazy. But if I knew that I could do that, then there wasn’t anything stopping me but myself,” Tay Keith says.
When asked for advice for students who may eventually find themselves in a similar situation, the trio made it simple – you can still be successful while staying in school, so take advantage of the networking opportunities and gain more experience at the same time.
“None of this would have ever happened if we hadn’t come to college,” says Jackson.
Author Kobe Hermann is a senior at MTSU, majoring in management in the Jones College of Business and minoring in economics and business administration. The views and opinions expressed above are his own.