MTSU meets alumni and industry leaders at Grammys



Ken Paulson, left, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, chats with GRAMMY-winning artist and MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond at the Southern California alumni reception. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — MTSU made its presence known in Southern California in February, reconnecting with area alumni and sponsoring the first of two Americana concerts before the Grammys.

The Bluegrass Situation, a Los Angeles-based organization that creates Americana music events, and MTSU’s WMOT-FM Roots Radio co-sponsored a show Friday night at The Hotel Café in Hollywood, headlined by genre Grammy nominees Carla Morrison and Mark O’Connor.

Jessie Scott, WMOT’s program director and afternoon drive-time host, was the emcee of the concert, which was taped for broadcast later on the campus radio station 89.5 FM. Proceeds benefited a local charity to bolster music education in area schools.

“Friday’s show is the first time we brought WMOT’s BGS Radio Hour to a live audience, and we’re thrilled to do it at one of our favorite L.A. venues, The Hotel Café,” said Amy Reitnouer, co-founder and executive director of The Bluegrass Situation.

Enjoying the show was MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who, along with faculty and students from the College of Media and Entertainment, has traveled to the Grammys for the last four years to celebrate the award nominations of alumni and touch base with industry leaders.

“It’s a joy to partner with The Bluegrass Situation and bring some of our Southern California alumni to such a great show,” McPhee said. “Tonight, and everything we do this weekend, underscores MTSU’s deep connections to the music business.”


Dean Ken Paulson called Friday’s concert “an ideal launch for MTSU’s Grammy outreach. … It brings together our Recording Industry program, our new Americana format for WMOT and the highly respected Bluegrass Situation for a singular evening of talk and talent,” he said.

McPhee, Paulson and Beverly Keel, chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, hosted a dinner for about 30 alumni before the concert, which kicked off the university’s series of pre-Grammy events for 2017.

Saturday night, the college co-sponsored a second Americana concert at the legendary Troubadour Café in West Hollywood. The concert was produced by the Americana Music Association.

A pair of former MTSU students and a recent graduate were among the nominees for 59th Grammy Awards, along with an alumnus who executive-produced a special film about the Grand Ole Opry.

Chris Young’s No. 1 single, “Think of You,” which he co-wrote and which features singer Casadee Pope, is a nominee in the best country duo/group performance category. It was released in January 2016.

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who recently branched out into contemporary Christian music with her group The Scott Family, was nominated for a pair of Grammys in her new field: best contemporary Christian album for “Love Reigns,” and best contemporary Christian music performance/song for “Thy Will,” which she co-wrote, off that album. Scott and The Scott Family nabbed both those awards. The Scott Family includes Scott’s parents, country singer Linda Davis and songwriter-musician Lang Scott, and her younger sister, Rylee.

Brad King, a 2015 MTSU recording industry graduate specializing in audio production, is competing with Scott in the best contemporary Christian album category for his engineering work on the team that recorded “Poets & Saints” by the group All Sons & Daughters.

Pete Fisher, the Opry’s former longtime vice president and chief executive officer, is part of a team that created “American Saturday Night: Live from the Grand Ole Opry,” a concert film released in theaters in December 2015 and a nominee in the best music film category.

— Andrew Oppmann

Categories: News

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