Service Corps, a Belmont student organization dedicated to providing student experiences in the music and entertainment industries, took 22 members to this year’s Grammy Week in Los Angeles. While there, students had the opportunity to take part in a variety of hands-on industry experiences that placed them directly in the excitement of the events. And two students connected to Belmont even performed on the red carpet during a Grammy pre-telecast event on E.
Fifteen students participated as talent escorts in the two-day Grammy Radio Row, an event where celebrities and their teams interview with stations all over the U.S. All 22 students participated as escorts for Friday’s MusiCares Gala on the red carpet. On Saturday, students participated in the Grammy Special Merit red carpet and awards show to assist with event logistics, and on Sunday students worked the Grammy red carpet as escorts to nominees and guests of the Recording Academy.
College of Entertainment and Music Business Dean Doug Howard said, “Belmont University always has a presence at the Grammys through our talented alumni being recognized for their great work. What many may not know is that for the past 15 years, our students have had the opportunity to work behind the scenes at Grammy Week through Service Corps―a student organization that volunteers for industry events ranging from CMA Fest to Sundance. I’m so proud of our students who have consistently demonstrated a high level of professionalism through the years at our industry’s highest profile events. And we are very grateful to NARAS and Rogers & Cowan for continuing to give our students these remarkable experiences.” (more…)
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.