A New York City native who lived much of his childhood in California, Belmont junior Jackson Wells’ life to date has spanned both coasts of the United States, but it’s a faraway locale that has captured his imagination. For this songwriting major and pop performer the Belmont motto “From Here to Anywhere” has taken on dramatic significance as his long-held fascination with Chinese culture has carried him to the heights of fame overseas, with fans literally numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“After taking eight years of Spanish in school, I just found myself getting tired of it and started developing a real interest in Chinese,” said Wells, who began studying Mandarin in high school and is also minoring now in Chinese at Belmont. Belmont was a perfect choice for Wells due to the University’s prominence in music business fields and its location in Music City, but it also keeps the young singer-songwriter close to home as his family moved to Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee several years ago. And the Tennessee connections helped launch an unexpected journey that’s led to unimaginable success.
Knowing his interest in the Chinese culture, a family friend who worked with the Tennessee Multicultural Center invited Wells to go to China in 2012 to perform in the International Youth Music Festival in Chengdu. That year Jackson played in front of about 5,000 people. Return trips saw his audience gradually grow, and his prominence also began to rise exponentially on YouTube, with three music videos garnering more than 1.8 million views internationally. Two years later, Wells’ popularity in China has exploded. His most recent trip in August found him performing as a headliner at the festival, this time playing to more than 470,000 fans over three nights.
“The fans all sing along to my songs in English, but I’m now recording a five-song EP in Chinese,” Wells noted. “It’s the least we could do to show that nation’s people our gratitude and respect–they have given me a career in China.”
Wells travels again to China next week, this time to play a gig organized by actor/former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that’s part of an initiative to promote efforts for cleaner air and “green” efficiency in the country. The event, which has already sold out to a crowd of 18,000, will be broadcast on the two largest public and private TV networks in China.
While Wells looks forward to further developing his career throughout the Asian continent, he’s also hard at work securing fans in the States with recent performances at such venues as L.A.’s House of Blues, Universal Studios CityWalk and Nashville’s own Bluebird Cafe and Mercy Lounge. He was the also the featured artist at a Nashville Predators game in March, playing in front of 16,729 hometown attendees.
Wells began writing songs at the age of 14 and released his self-titled EP in December 2010. A follow-up EP, Inescapable, released in January 2013. Wells’ first full-length album, Picture of Life, was a collaboration with Grammy-award winning producer Bill Cuomo and Beeb Birtles, founding member of Little River Band, and was released in January 2014 on his own independent label.
Still, with all his success to date, Wells continues to keep his team small and focus on priorities. His parents serve as his management, and the rest of the team consists of his band, tech support specialist and a merchandise designer. He’s also working with three university students in China who assist in promotion in that country, and he’s partnered with three Belmont students on a class project that aims to think of innovative ideas to further promote his accomplishments overseas.
For more information, visit JacksonWells.net.
This morning Belmont University topped out its new $80 million Dining and Academic Complex by following in the long-held Scandinavian tradition of placing a tree on the roof of the building to celebrate the completed framing of the structure. The building is expected to open in summer 2015 and will house three University programs: music business, media studies and a new major that launched last fall, motion pictures.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “The programs that will occupy this building demand state-of-the-art technology in order to educate students to compete in today’s marketplace, and this new facility will offer exceptional resources. Moreover, the new second-floor space for our primary dining option will serve our entire campus, giving our community greater options and faster service in a location that will also provide beautiful aesthetics.”
The 134,000-square-foot Dining and Academic Complex will sit on top of a 1,000+ -space parking garage, keeping the building’s footprint small while greatly enhancing parking options on campus. The second-floor dining hall will provide 1,000 seats; a capacity that triples the current campus cafeteria, and will offer an outdoor patio facing into campus. As part of its 21-year tenure as Belmont’s dining services provider, Sodexo is contributing to the construction of the Dining and Academic Center.
Belmont Vice President and Chief of Staff Susan West, who oversees the auxiliary services on campus, said, “Our campus community will benefit greatly from improved dining services in this facility. The research that we did in advance—through visits to other university dining facilities and focus groups with students, faculty and staff—provided thoughtful and helpful input which impacted every aspect of the new cafeteria’s design. I think our campus is going to truly love this new space.”
Classrooms and faculty/staff offices will comprise approximately 70 percent of the building. Academic program-centered features of the building include 30 student edit bays, multiple computer labs, a motion capture facility, a Foley/ADR sound studio, color correction studio, post-production audio mix studio, a video/broadcast studio, two video production control rooms, a 2,500 square foot sound stage and a scene shop. In addition, two state-of-the art screening theaters (seating 260 and 80) will also boast audio mixing technology.
Belmont is seeking LEED Gold certification for the new facility, which will utilize a geothermal HVAC system as well as feature a partial green roof. The geothermal system is projected to yield the University an estimated 40 percent in cost savings over a standard heating and cooling system. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes it as the most environmentally-friendly heating and cooling system because it uses the earth itself as the source to transfer temperatures, reducing energy costs and pollution concerns. Instead of generating heat with standard conventional furnaces, in the geothermal system water is funneled 500-feet underground through pumps that use the earth’s constant temperature of 50 degrees to warm buildings in the winter and cool them in the summer.
Since 2000, Belmont has invested nearly a half billion dollars ($470 million) in construction projects to enhance campus life and serve a growing enrollment, including several residence halls, academic buildings, an athletic and student life center as well as its largest building to date, the Wedgewood Academic Center.
As part of an effort to connect students with industry professionals, The Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University has partnered with Sony/ATV Music Publishing for the “All Access” program which gives students a pathway to share their talent and work with the world’s leading music publisher and gives the Sony/ATV team the opportunity to discover potential talent at Belmont University.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville President and CEO Troy Tomlinson said, “We make a real point at Sony/ATV of being part of the community in Nashville and this new partnership with Belmont is a great example of that. We know the University is overflowing with talented students and by launching the All Access program we will now have a direct way to identify them so we can help them to reach their full potential. This is all about uncovering the next generation of songwriters and artists.”
Through the program, students will have the opportunity to have two songs reviewed by the Sony/ATV Music Publishing Creative Team. The Creative Team will then select a limited number of students to perform their songs live for the SONY/ATV team during showcases held each semester. After the live performances, the SONY/ATV team will extend an invitation to a limited number of students to experience “a day in the Sony/ATV studio with an engineer.”
James I. Elliott, Chair of Songwriting in the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, added, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to have their music heard by Troy Tomlinson and his Creative Team. We look forward to the process and have high hopes that Sony ATV Music Publishing will discover some future hit makers at Belmont.”
In 1971 Belmont University created a Music Business program designed to prepare young men and women for operational, administrative, creative and technical careers in the music industry. The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business was established in 2003 to provide educational programs of study for future entertainment industry professionals. Belmont’s Curb College offers three academic degrees and four areas of study in Music Business (B.B.A.), Audio Engineering Technology (B.A. or B.S.), Entertainment Industry Studies (B.A. or B.S.), and Songwriting (B.A. or B.S.). The college boasts an impressive faculty of academic scholars and authors, entrepreneurs, songwriters, producers, and sound and recording engineers. A world leader in music business and entertainment industry education, and the only freestanding college of its kind accredited for both business (AACSB) and technology (ABET), the Curb College has been featured in Billboard, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Business Week.
ABOUT SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING:
Sony/ATV Music Publishing, established in 1995 as a joint venture between Sony and Michael Jackson, is the world’s leading music publisher. Together with EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV owns or administers around 3 million copyrights including those from such iconic music catalogs like Leiber & Stoller, Mijac Music, Motown and Famous Music. Sony/ATV also controls many of the best known songs ever written like “New York, New York,” “Hallelujah,” “All You Need Is Love,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Moon River,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “The Mission Impossible Theme,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Stand By Me,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” In addition, Sony/ATV represents the copyrights of such legendary artists as The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Carole King, Kraftwerk, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Richie Sambora, Sting, The Supremes, Wyclef Jean, Hank Williams and Stevie Wonder, among others. Its ever-growing list of chart-topping artists, writers and producers includes Akon, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Jessie J, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, P!nk, RedOne, Shakira, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Stargate, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.
Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business continues to be recognized as one of the world’s top colleges and universities to learn about the music industry according to a recent survey on music business education conducted by Billboard Magazine.
The survey highlights universities and other educational institutions giving students the opportunity to learn about the music business with hands-on experience and classes taught by teachers from the industry. Those schools are increasingly responding to the changes shaping both education and the music business, according to the survey.
Established with guidance from the Recording Academy and local industry executives, including its namesake, record company executive Mike Curb, owner of Curb Records and former president of MGM Records, “the Curb College takes full advantage of its strategic location in Music City to build world-wide opportunities for our students,” says dean and professor of audio engineering, Dr. Wesley Bulla.
According to Lecturer of Music Business, Dr. David Schreiber, the college readily embraces the changing demands of the music and entertainment industry but recognizes that things such as critical thinking and problem solving remain constant. “A lot of the faculty, including myself, do our best to incorporate experiential learning, getting students to replicate what happens out in the field, while still in a safe [academic] environment,” Schreiber says.
Students gain experiential education on ‘Happy Together Tour’
A class of Belmont University students have join their professor, legendary musician and The Turtles founding member Mark Volman, for an East Coast run of the “Happy Together Tour” for the third consecutive year. The tour’s “classroom” and schedule include one tour bus, a precious few hotel rooms, long hours and many stages—for two and a half weeks and a grade.
Under the guidance of Volman, assistant professor of entertainment industry studies, and staff adviser Lucas Boto, the students are working with touring artists and crew professionals in the areas of tour management, stage management, audio engineering, tour accounting and merchandise sales. These duties are in addition to their continued learning each day during the process of load-in, setup, tear-down and load-out. These hands-on educational avenues outside of the classroom provide networking opportunities with all of the supporting organizations while gaining an understanding of the revenue flow from music consumer to touring performer.
“Happy Together is a once in a lifetime opportunity where students get to learn first-hand what it’s like to be a touring professional. Not only are concepts taught, but they’re put into practice along the way,” Boto said. “I don’t know of any other university that partners with a professional tour to further the education of students in the realm of entertainment. The experiences gained are priceless and translate directly into potential job opportunities.”
Volman is excited to show students what he knows outside of the classroom, he said, and the students have added energy to the tour experience. The two previous classes have been so successful that Volman has hired two former students to work merchandise and as a photographer on the tour.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to further explore my passions. Big thanks to Mark Volman for putting this together. It’s one thing to learn concepts in the classroom but having hands on experience takes it to another level,” said Erika Eenigenburg, a senior from Cedar Lake, Indiana studying music business. (more…)