College students of color nationwide will be able to connect with country music careers and experts from across the industry in a new pilot program Middle Tennessee State University is launching Wednesday, Feb. 24.
“Bridges to Nashville: Exciting Career Opportunities in Country Music” begins at 4 p.m. Central Feb. 24 with the first in a monthly series of virtual sessions: a conversation with Shy Carter, country artist and hit songwriter, and Shannon Sanders, award-winning songwriter-producer and an executive at Broadcast Music Inc.’s Nashville office.
They’ll be followed by a 5 p.m. panel on record labels moderated by Gina Miller, senior vice president and general manager of Entertainment One and founding board member of Nashville Music Equality.
Students can register free here to attend the series.
“The goal of this program is to educate students of color about country music in hopes that they will consider country music as a viable career path after graduation,” says Beverly Keel, dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment and creator of the new initiative.
“The program will explore what today’s country music is, how the industry operates and what the potential career opportunities are. In addition, this program will introduce industry leaders to African-American students who are interested in internships and jobs. The goal is to create more diversity in all areas of the country music industry.”
Along with MTSU and Nashville Music Equality, the new “Bridges to Nashville” series sponsors include BMI, Change the Conversation, CMT, the Country Music Association, Diversify the Stage, and The Recording Academy Nashville Chapter.
Each of the two-hour Zoom sessions will include a conversation with a creator of color and focus on one segment of the industry. This spring’s program dates and topics are:
• Wednesday, March 31 — “Publishers, Performing Rights Organizations and Songwriters.”
• Wednesday, April 21 — “Talent Agencies and Promoters.”
• Wednesday, May 26 — “Studios, Producers and Engineers.”
• Wednesday, June 23 — “Entrepreneurial Opportunities (Digital Marketing, Publicity, etc.).”
Inaugural guests Carter and Sanders will bring a wealth of industry experience to their conversation for and with students.
Carter has worked with artists ranging from Kane Brown and Billy Currington to Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. He co-wrote Puth’s double platinum hit “One Call Away,” and his co-written “Stuck Like Glue” with Sugarland became the 11th all-time most downloaded country music song.
He recently launched his own country singing career with a debut single, “Good Love.”
Sanders, a two-time Grammy, two-time Emmy, and Dove Award-winning songwriter-producer, is the founder and original program director of Nashville’s 102.1 The Ville, a classic soul and R&B radio station. He’s also served as India.Arie’s musical director for 20 years.
As executive director, creative, at BMI, Sanders signs and develops talent and supports songwriters and publishers for the performance rights organization, continuing his 25-year music industry career and decades of community service.
Keel says the college is creating a student advisory committee to help guide the “Bridges to Nashville” program’s direction. A LinkedIn group will help connect interested students across the nation.
For more information about the new Bridges to Nashville program, visit https://mtsu.edu/media/bridgestonashville.php.
For more information about MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, visit www.mtsu.edu/media.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)