Belmont students Louisa Wendorff, junior songwriting major, Devin Dawson, senior songwriting major, Jacob Durrett, sophomore audio engineering technology major and 2014 alumna Blythe Thomas received the Christmas gift of a lifetime when their Taylor Swift mash-up was noticed by the country music star herself.
The song is an arrangement of Swift’s “Blank Space” and “Style” and features Wendorff and Dawson in a folk/acoustic style duet. The video, created and produced by Thomas, showcases both singer-songwriters and the song’s audio was done by Durrett.
To endorse Wendorff and Dawson’s rendition of her popular songs, Swift tweeted the link to the video on Dec. 27 with one word – “OBSESSED.” In addition to Swift’s post, the mash-up cover has been featured on TIME, TeenVogue, Huffington Post and Entertainment Weekly, among others.
Since the song’s coverage, Wendorff’s EP has grown to #2 on the iTunes singer songwriter chart and #57 on the overall charts.
Veteran industry executive to lead Belmont’s premier entertainment, music business programs
Belmont University announced today the appointment of Doug Howard, founder of Vandermont Music Group and former senior vice president of A&R for Lyric Street Records/Walt Disney Company, to the position of dean for the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, effective January 1, 2015. Howard fills a position held for nine years by Dr. Wes Bulla, who announced earlier this year his intention to return to a full-time teaching position.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “The dean of the Curb College possesses the distinctive charge of leading innovative academic programs that are regarded worldwide as among the best in entertainment business education while also ensuring that the college itself remains intricately connected and involved in the industry, both in Nashville and beyond. From his long-held ties with Belmont to his incomparable music business experience, Doug Howard is uniquely prepared for this role, and we’re honored to have him join us as the new Curb College dean.”
A 1979 alumnus of Belmont, Howard received his MBA from Vanderbilt University and his JD from the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. He has a long history in the Nashville music scene with early beginnings as a song plugger and studio manager for the Welk Music Group. Following law school, Howard served as vice president and general manager for PolyGram Music Publishing for five years before becoming the senior vice president of A&R for Lyric Street Records, a division of the Walt Disney Company. Howard is the president and owner of Vandermont Music Group, a company he founded in 2010.
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, the Chinese tutor of one Jackson’s school friends invited him to go to China in 2012, for what Jackson thought was an opportunity to teach English to students there. Instead, he was encouraged to bring his guitar and asked 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.
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 be the home of the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business as well as programs in 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.