Josh Turner, Belmont alumnus and double-platinum selling country music artist, returned to campus on Wednesday to speak to a packed auditorium of students, faculty and staff. With his most recent single released on iTunes and a new album coming out in Spring 2015, Turner spent his time discussing his hit “Long Black Train,” his family, his faith and his love for Belmont.
During his time at the University, Turner reflected on a walk he took from the Lila D. Bunch library to Hillside, his on-campus apartment at the time. During his walk, he was struck with the idea of a long train and the temptation to hop aboard. The inspiration turned into a night of writing, where he created three of the hit’s verses, as well as the chorus. The next day, he wrote the fourth and final verse. “Long Black Train” would become the song that landed Turner his first record deal.
Throughout his career, Turner said the song has changed lives and pulled people out of very bleak places. It is these stories that continue to remind him of his calling to write and sing country music. He said he feels “obligated to go out there and use the talent God has given me to change people’s lives for the better… The Lord gave me this song, he’s been using it and I think he’s going to continue to use it.”
The Belmont University School of Music presented the 2014 Encore Award Thursday evening to actor/singer/songwriter Greg Walter during a concert in his honor. The Encore Award was created in 2008 to honor a Belmont University School of Music alumnus for achievement in the field of classical music. Walter graduated from the Belmont School of Music in 1987 as a Presser Scholar. While at Belmont, he studied classical voice under Associate Professor of Voice Marjorie Halbert.
Walter was an original cast member of Chicago’s company of “Forever Plaid” for which he received a Joseph Jefferson award in the best ensemble category. He was also nominated for a Jeff award, which celebrates excellence in Chicago theatre, for best actor in Frank McCourt’s The Irish and How They Got That Way, for which he also music directed. His voice can also be heard in commercial jingles for Michelob and Trac Auto. His songs have been recorded by various cabaret singers in Chicago, and his vocal arrangement of “Down in the River to Pray,” performed by the Chicago Chamber Choir, can be found on the disc recording At the River.
Walter is currently a professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he teaches voice and serves as musical director.
Previous Encore Award honorees include Clifton Forbis (2008), Daniel Weeks (2009), Drs. Daniel and Sharon Lawhon (2010), Maestra Teresa Cheung (2011), Dr. Alfredo Colman (2012) and Travis Cottrell (2013).
On March 17, the School of Music opened 16 new practice rooms in the annex located behind McAfee Concert Hall. These new rooms provide additional practice spaces for over 600 music majors. The rooms have been optimized for sound isolation and sound panels in the rooms lower the decibel levels to meet health and safety expectations.
Previously, all practice rooms were located in the Wilson Music Building or Massey Performing Arts Center. The new location adds variety to practice location options and will be convenient for students with lessons or ensemble rehearsals in McAfee. Later this spring, lockers will be installed and available for rent for student instrument storage.
“Practice is a vital part of any musician’s education, so we are delighted to have these additional new practice rooms on campus. To illustrate the impact of this new space, fully utilized this facility provides almost 1,800 hours of practice time per week for our students,” said Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Cynthia Curtis.
The spaces are available for practice at the following times:
Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
For security, a building monitor will be on duty weekdays, beginning at 4 p.m., and on weekend hours as stated above.
The School of Music honored alumnus Danny Wells (’83) with the Curtain Call Award on Thursday evening. During the ceremony, Wells performed a few selections from his significant songwriting catalog. The Curtain Call Award is presented annually to a School of Music alumnus in honor of achievement in the field of commercial and popular music.
“Wells was chosen because of his outstanding achievement in songwriting. Some of his number one hits include George Strait’s ‘Check Yes or No,’ Rascal Flatts’ ‘These Days’ and Craig Morgan’s ‘Little Bit of Life.’ He is a member of BMI’s ultra-exclusive Million-Air Club and has written songs for a long list of artists,” Belmont School of Music Assistant Professor Sandra Dudley said.
Show to air nationwide on PBS in December
Hosted by internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and taped at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, nearly 700 student musicians join the Belmont School of Music faculty and the Nashville Children’s Choir later this month for the taping of “Christmas at Belmont.” The annual production of traditional carols, classical masterworks, world music and light-hearted seasonal favorites, produced by Nashville Public Television (NPT), will premiere on NPT on Thurs., Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. Central followed by the PBS premiere on December 20 at 9 p.m. Central, with an encore broadcast Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Central. This is the 11th consecutive year “Christmas at Belmont” has been seen by a national audience on PBS.
This year’s edition of “Christmas at Belmont” features the University Symphony Orchestra, Belmont Chorale, Percussion Ensemble, Musical Theatre, Jazz Ensemble and Bluegrass Ensemble, as well as mass choir. The performance includes both classic sacred holiday music such as “The First Noel” and “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” as well as festive seasonal songs such as “Carol of the Bells” and “We Need a Little Christmas,” to name a few.