NBC News features Recording Industry’s Grammy connection

NBC Snow and Laird

Kate Snow, weekend anchor for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, interviews Luke Laird, Department of Recording Industry alumnus and Grammy-award winner, in Studio B in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building.

On Sunday evening, Feb. 10, the College of Media and Entertainment’s Department of Recording Industry received some well-deserved recognition via the news media just hours before the Grammys aired live on network television.

Kate Snow, weekend anchor for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, aired a two-minute and 13-second segment highlighting the Department of Recording Industry’s alumni, faculty and students. Snow zeroed in on the 16 Grammys won by alumni and faculty since 2007, interviewing producer and alumnus Luke Laird and fellow producer and recent graduate Tay Keith on their recent nominations.

NBC Snow and around table

Luke Laird discusses the music industry with Katie Snow, Chair of the Recording Industry Beverly Keel and students (left to right) Micaela Griffin, Natalie Madigan, Austin Sawyer, Trianne Newbrey, Samantha Bicknell and Herschel Crowe.

Laird, a 2001 graduate who co-wrote the Kacey Musgraves hit “Space Cowboy” alongside Musgraves and Shane McAnally, won the 2019 Grammy for Best Country Song.

BryTavious “Tay Keith” Chambers, a Memphis-native who graduated from MTSU in December, was nominated for best rap song for producing the Travis Scott track “Sicko Mode” with Drake, Big Hawk and Swae Lee.  (The award went to Drake’s “God’s Plan”, respectively).

Snow also interviewed three current students – Trianne Newbrey, Austin Sawyer and Micaela Griffin – about the benefits of being enrolled in a world-renowned program that is housed at a state school.

“How many of you will graduate with no debt?” asked Snow.

All three students raised their hands.

NBC Snow and Crowd.jpg

Grammy nominee and Department of Recording Industry alumnus Tay Keith (middle) talks to Katie Snow (far left) and students Austin Sawyer (second to left), Micaela Griffin (second from right) and Trianne Newbrey (far right).

Snow and her production team arrived on campus Feb. 5, setting up shop in Bragg Media and Entertainment’s Studio B and the Center for Popular Music along with local producer Debra Jones. Jones sent the idea to NBC after reading about the MTSU Grammy nominations (a total of seven in 2019) on her friend Abby White’s Facebook page. White is the development director for the College of Media and Entertainment, which houses the Department of Recording Industry, School of Journalism and Strategic Media, and the Department of Media Arts.

“Debra called me to learn more about MTSU’s relationship with the Grammys and how students and alumni are involved,” White said. “She then pitched the story to NBC and they loved it. We worked out the details over the holidays and scheduled a shoot at MTSU.

Ken Paulson, Dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, initiated the student Grammy program when he took over as dean five and a half years ago. Paulson believes that exposing students to professionals in their field early on in their training will lead to a greater educational experience.

“[The segment] could not have been a more positive take on our Recording Industry department and the expertise and encouragement it gives the next generation of music industry professionals,” Paulson said. “All credit [goes] to an outstanding group of professors and staff members, motivated students and a university that has paved the way for dynamic change.”

Update: On Monday morning, NBC News’ Early Today referenced Kate Snow’s segment on MTSU and highlighted alumnus Luke Laird’s recent Grammy win for co-writing Best Country Song “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves. Anchors Frances Rivera and Phillip Mena chatted about the university being a “Grammy-winner factory” and said, “It’s like what Ohio State is for football, or Duke is for basketball.”


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Categories: Alumni, Faculty, News

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