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.
This historic premiere answers the prayers of generations of Nashville artists, producers, business people and civic leaders for a national television showcase for the diverse artistry happening in Nashville, beyond the well-publicized country music industry. Launched and run as a live radio show with a focus on artistry and community, Music City Roots celebrates the diversity and dynamism of the new Nashville and the national revival of folk and roots music.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “When Board Trustee Eugenia Winwood suggested partnering with Music City Roots, her enthusiasm was inspiring. Belmont University has a long history in the music industry and as ‘Nashville’s University,’ we’re proud to show our support for the unique and unparalleled talent of Music City.”
On Feb. 13 internationally acclaimed opera singer Denyce Graves sat down in the Massey Performing Arts Center for a conversation with longtime journalist Harry Chapman, who now serves as Belmont’s director of development and major gifts. Graves, who will be performing at the McAfee Concert Hall with various School of Music ensembles tonight, discussed her personal story.
Graves described her entire career as being her “mother’s fault.” She explained that each week her mother assigned her and her siblings a new activity. “One week would be sewing, next week would be something else.”
Eventually, her mother realized the potential of her children and formed the Inspirational Children of God, and the musical group would perform at the family’s local church. However, it wasn’t until Denyce’s brother, the lead singer, became ill that she reluctantly took his spot in the group.
“My mother pushed me onto the stage, and at that point, you can’t really say no,” she recalled. From then on, Graves’s passion for music flourished as she continued to sing for the church. She fondly remembers the church as her “first audience” and “nourishing ground.”
Internationally acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves, known for her portrayal of Carmen, will perform as a soloist and join various School of Music ensembles at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in the McAfee Concert Hall to present a concert celebrating the world’s diversity and bringing an awareness of tolerance, peace and unity.
The Celebration of Unity concert is free, open to the public and part of the inaugural season celebration of the McAfee Concert Hall. Tickets are required because seating is limited and can be reserved at www.bemont.edu/music.
As a young girl growing up in Washington, D.C., Graves performed in a family singing group called the Inspirational Children of God. Graves also belonged to her church “bus ministry,” visiting neighborhood families to encourage parents to enroll their children in Sunday school. Shortly after undergoing vocal cord surgery, she sang the Lord’s Prayer at the Cathedral service following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.