Faculty, students in Vegas to celebrate 9 alums nominated for music industry’s biggest honors
LAS VEGAS — True Blue returned to the Grammys in full force Friday, April 1, as Middle Tennessee State University resumed its annual pilgrimage to the music industry’s biggest showcase to celebrate alumni nominees and provide students career-building experiences.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee joined faculty, students and administrators from the colleges of Media and Entertainment and Liberal Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 64th annual Grammy Awards, where the rescheduled and relocated ceremony will take place Sunday, April 3.
COVID-19 concerns in 2021 broke MTSU’s seven-year streak of hosting Grammy site events and lining up student experiences. The pandemic also delayed the 2022 event by three months, forcing it away from Los Angeles for an open venue.
“I’m pleased that our annual recognition of our alumni Grammy nominees and this amazing student learning experience is back on track,” McPhee said. “It underscores our standing as a premier and accomplished music business institution.”
At least nine alumni were nominated for Grammys this year, in categories ranging from country to pop to Latin music to bluegrass to gospel. They will be recognized by the university at an MTSU Alumni Association gathering Saturday in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, five Media and Entertainment students spent Friday helping prepare the MGM Grand Conference Center for that night’s 31st annual MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala, which will honor legendary performer Joni Mitchell. The event raises money for the Recording Academy’s member charitable support efforts.
Students Cole Arn, Kevon Cole, Breanna Beahler, Jolie Harper and Sam Long helped MusiCares ready the room for a reception and silent auction, followed by a dinner and tribute concert honoring Mitchell’s impact on the music industry and the inspiration she has provided to artists over the years.
“Getting to go on this trip is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Harper, a senior majoring in music business from Nashville, Tennessee. “I’m so thankful that MTSU has provided me with the chance to meet industry professionals, see Las Vegas and have an amazing experience with my peers — all at the same time.”
Beahler, a junior majoring in music business from Cosby, Missouri, said she was “so thrilled and thankful to be a part of this experience. I know I am going to learn so much on this trip.”
MTSU secured this year’s student opportunities through the many industry connections held by Media and Entertainment Dean Beverly Keel, as well as Recording Industry Chair John Merchant and professor Matthew O’Brian.
“Experiences like these help our students better understand the inner workings of major entertainment events,” Keel said. “We show them how many of the elements for the industry’s biggest event come together and how things get done.”
National news outlets in 2019 began calling MTSU a “Grammy-winner factory” in the wake of the multiple nominations and wins by alumni, students and staffers from Media and Entertainment’s Department of Recording Industry and Liberal Arts’ School of Music. The university routinely makes Billboard’s list of top music business schools
MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty have been a part of more than 125 Grammy nominations in the last two decades. After the 2021 ceremony last March, the number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 has risen to 15 with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients.
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)