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MTSU joins ‘Rock the Vote’ national broadcast from...

MTSU joins ‘Rock the Vote’ national broadcast from Nashville [+VIDEO]

MTSU students tuned up to Rock the Vote with bands from Nashville-area universities Tuesday, Sept. 22, during a nationwide National Voter Registration Day virtual event to get Americans registered and ready to vote in the Nov. 3 elections.

MTSU’s student-run Match Records label artists Shelter Cove were part of a five-university, 90-minute lineup in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy.”

Rock the Vote logoAnd graduate student Miranda Johnson of MTSU’s American Democracy Project chapter appeared  between performances to urge viewers to make their voting plans now to make their ballot counts on Nov. 3.

The show aired on Rock the Vote’s YouTube channel and its Facebook page. You can watch the show, starting with Shelter Cove’s performance, above.

Shelter Cove’s members are guitarist and senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tennessee; vocalist and May 2020 commercial songwriting graduate Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tennessee; and drummer and senior philosophy major Andy Modaff, a Lisle, Illinois, native who now lives in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Senior applied physics major Andrew Shields of Clarksville, Tennessee, also plays bass with the band.

Members of Shelter Cove, an indie rock/pop band of MTSU students and alumni who perform on the university's student-run label, Match Records, are shown in this publicity photo. From left are are drummer and senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tennessee; vocalist and May 2020 commercial songwriting graduate Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tennessee; and guitarist and senior philosophy major Andy Modaff, a Lisle, Illinois, native who now lives in Smyrna, Tennessee. The group is performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy," a nationwide National Voter Registration Day virtual event to get Americans registered and ready to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. (photo submitted)

Members of Shelter Cove, an indie rock/pop band of MTSU students and alumni who perform on the university’s student-run label, Match Records, are shown in this publicity photo. From left are are drummer and senior philosophy major Andy Modaff, a Lisle, Illinois, native who now lives in Smyrna, Tenn.; vocalist and May 2020 commercial songwriting graduate Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tenn.; and guitarist and senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn. The group performed with artists from four other Nashville-area universities Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy,” a nationwide National Voter Registration Day virtual event to get Americans registered and ready to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. (photo submitted)

Frank Baird, an assistant professor of audio production in the Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, made the connections for his students when former colleagues at Belmont contacted him about the Rock the Vote event.

Frank Baird, assistant professor, Department of Recording Industry

Professor Frank Baird

“When they called me, I thought, ‘Okay, this is nonpartisan, this is getting young people to vote — that’s easy for me to get behind, so I’m in on that,’” Baird said. “And it’s also one of my only opportunities this semester, because we don’t know what’s going on with COVID, to get my recording industry students … to do this kind of event, because there’s very, very few live events.

“Here we are in September and it’s all ‘turn the red lights on!’ because the live entertainment industry got shut down on March 14 and none of us have worked. … If you’re a technician, light, sound, video, whatever happens to be, there were no concerts this summer and there’s no concerts being planned anytime soon. So it’s a great chance.”

Department of Recording Industry logoThe groups, which included students and alumni from Belmont, Fisk University, Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt University, taped their performances a week ago at Belmont for the Rock the Vote show.

The Rock the Vote event falls one month before the last of three 2020 presidential debates, set Oct. 22 at Belmont.

MTSU alumnus Nic Dugger and his nationally acclaimed TNDV Television handled the live video production at Belmont’s Curb Event Center with colleagues from Nashville-based Stereophonic Films and students from the College of Entertainment and Music Business there.

Belmont’s new health protocols limited the number of personnel for all the outside performers and crews during the production sessions. Along with Baird, the MTSU indie rock/pop band got permission to bring a single audio engineer to handle their sound for their set.

MTSU audio production alumna Ashley Mills adjusts sound levels on the music during rehearsals with the indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove in the university's Chris Young Café on campus. The band, which includes MTSU students and alumni who perform on the university's student-run label, Match Records, is performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy," a nationwide National Voter Registration Day virtual event to get Americans registered and ready to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU audio production alumna Ashley Mills, a West Virginia native who now lives in Franklin, Tenn., adjusts sound levels on the music during rehearsals with the indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove in the university’s Chris Young Café on campus. The band, which includes MTSU students and alumni who perform on the university’s student-run label, Match Records, performed with artists from four other Nashville-area universities Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy.” (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“We were given a list of COVID protocols: only one band could be in that room at a time,” said May audio production grad Ashley Mills, a native of Jane Lew, West Virginia, who now works full-time for MTSU Production Services, the university’s multimedia service department.

“There was no overlapping, so … that was weird, and having everyone stay six feet apart. Normally, on a stage, I’m parked up with the backup singers anyway. And they had the (mixing) board in a completely empty room. … I do that for rehearsals all the time, but there were just minimal people — maybe one or two streaming guys just for video equipment, you know, and just (Professor) Baird, the band and me.”

MTSU's Match Records logoMills enjoyed the challenge of creating the sound for Shelter Cove’s performance and said she was glad to boost her professional experience, noting that while she often prefers empty-room rehearsals to fine-tune the audio before a show, “I’d also rather rehearse with people there so I can get the balance just right.”

“Some people think you can just program your board and get it all … and not be able to change any of the knobs or any of the sound,” Mills said. “You can’t do that; you always have to be changing your EQ (equalization), you always have to be paying attention. If that guitar has a solo, it better be turned up and cut through that sound.”

MTSU audio production professor Frank Baird, center, coordinated with former colleagues at Belmont University to book the MTSU student/alumni band Shelter Cove for a performance as part of the Rock the Vote event broadcast Sept. 22 from Belmont’s campus. Pictured, from left, are Shelter Cove band members Andrew Shields, a senior from Clarksville, Tenn., and vocalist and May 2020 graduate Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tenn.; Baird; and Shelter Cove band members, guitarist and senior Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn., and drummer and senior Andy Modaff, a Lisle, Illinois, native who now lives in Smyrna, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)

MTSU audio production professor Frank Baird, center, joins the MTSU student/alumni band Shelter Cove for a photo while they tape their performance for the “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy” broadcast Sept. 22 from Belmont’s campus. From left, are Shelter Cove band members Andrew Shields, an MTSU senior from Clarksville, Tenn., and May 2020 graduate Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tenn.; Baird; and Shelter Cove band members Ethan Forrest, a senior from Nolensville, Tenn., and senior Andy Modaff, a Lisle, Illinois, native who now lives in Smyrna, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)

Along with Shelter Cove, the Rock the Vote performers also included indie rock/pop artist Annie DiRusso from Belmont; R&B/soul singer-songwriter Lauren McClinton, representing Fisk; a cappella group The Melodores from Vanderbilt; and spoken-word artist Sommer Jade from TSU.

Nashville-based indie rockers Moon Taxi, who met while they attended Belmont, returned to the campus to headline the event with guest Bren Joy.

Johnson, speaking with event host Kate Cosentino at the video’s 26-minute mark, said she planned to take advantage of early voting opportunities to cast her ballot and urged others to do the same.

“If you get there early, there’ll be less lines and less people, so it’s imperative to go vote early if you cannot go election day,” said Johnson, who also works with the Tennessee Campus Democracy Network, a 29-university organization that works to engage students in their communities.

Cosentino reminded voters who plan to cast ballots in person to expect long lines; wear masks; bring appropriate IDs, pens and hand sanitizer; and to stay six feet away from fellow voters.

Graduate student Miranda Johnson of MTSU's American Democracy Project, left, joins Belmont University student Kate Cosentino on the "Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy," which aired Sept. 22, to discuss the importance of making a plan to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. (image from YouTube)

Graduate student Miranda Johnson of MTSU’s American Democracy Project, left, joins Belmont University student Kate Cosentino on the “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy,” which aired Sept. 22, to discuss the importance of making a plan to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. (image from YouTube)

Executives from across the U.S. music industry established Rock the Vote in 1990 in response to censorship of hip-hop and rap artists. The organization first teamed up with MTV to encourage young people to learn about and exercise their rights as citizens.

Rock the Vote has encouraged voter registration and participation ever since, embracing technology and corporate partners as well as face-to-face efforts to help register more than 12 million U.S. voters. In the 2018 midterm elections, 81 percent of voters affiliated with Rock the Vote turned out to cast their ballots.

MTSU American Democracy Project logoToday, millennials and “Generation Z,” which the Pew Research Center says were born between 1981 and 1996 and those born since 1997, respectively, make up nearly 40 percent of America’s voters and are the focus of Rock the Vote’s efforts.

Monday, Oct. 5, is the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee in the Nov. 3 election. Early voting in Tennessee is set Wednesday, Oct. 14, through Thursday, Oct. 29.

For information on voting in Tennessee, visit www.mtsu.edu/vote or https://sos.tn.gov/elections.

Shelter Cove’s website is www.sheltercovetn.com, and the Match Records website is available at www.matchrecordsmusic.com.

For more information about Rock the Vote and its programs, visit http://rockthevote.org. Details about National Voter Registration Day are available at https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU commercial songwriting alumna Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tenn., sings as bandmate Andy Modaff of Smyrna, Tenn., a senior philosophy major, drums during rehearsals with their indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove in the university's Chris Young Café on campus. The band, which also includes guitarist and senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn., is on the university's student-run label, Match Records. They're performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy." (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU commercial songwriting alumna Abbie Garrett of Hendersonville, Tenn., sings as bandmate Andy Modaff of Smyrna, Tenn., a senior philosophy major, drums during rehearsals with their indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove in the university’s Chris Young Café on campus. The band, which also includes guitarist and senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn., is on the university’s student-run label, Match Records. They’re performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy.” (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU audio production alumna Ashley Mills, left, a West Virginia native who now lives in Franklin, Tenn., operates the soundboard during with the performance of indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove on Sept. 15 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. The band, which includes MTSU students and alumni who perform on the university’s student-run label, Match Records, performed with artists from four other Nashville-area universities in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy” that aired Tuesday, Sept. 22. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)

MTSU audio production alumna Ashley Mills, left, a West Virginia native who now lives in Franklin, Tenn., mixes the sound for indie rock/pop band Shelter Cove’s performance Sept. 15 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. The band, which includes MTSU students and alumni signed to the university’s student-run label, Match Records, performed with artists from four other Nashville-area universities in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy,” which aired Tuesday, Sept. 22. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)

MTSU senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn., checks his computer while rehearsing with his bandmates in Shelter Cove — commercial songwriting alumna Ashley Mills of Hendersonville, Tenn., left, and drummer Andy Modaff of Smyrna, Tenn., a senior philosophy major — in the university's Chris Young Café on campus. The indie rock/pop band, which is on the university's student-run label, Match Records, is performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy." (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU senior astronomy major Ethan Forrest of Nolensville, Tenn., checks his computer while rehearsing with his bandmates in Shelter Cove — commercial songwriting alumna Ashley Mills of Hendersonville, Tenn., left, and drummer Andy Modaff of Smyrna, Tenn., a senior philosophy major — in the university’s Chris Young Café on campus. The indie rock/pop band, which is on the university’s student-run label, Match Records, is performing with four other Nashville-area artists Tuesday, Sept. 22, in “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy.” (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU student/alumni indie/pop band Shelter Cove performs a song Sept. 15 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., that was prerecorded and aired as part of the Sept. 22 broadcast of the Belmont-hosted Rock the Vote event to encourage voter registration and participation in the November election. MTSU joined Belmont and other Nashville universities to partner for the event. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)

MTSU student/alumni indie/pop band Shelter Cove performs a song Sept. 15 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., that aired as part of the Sept. 22 broadcast of “Rock the Vote at Belmont University: Nashville Colleges Celebrate Democracy,” aimed at encouraging voter registration and participation in the November election. The band joined artists from Belmont and three other Nashville universities for the event. (MTSU photo by Frank Baird)


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