Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business celebrated 50 years of its music business program on Tuesday night (Oct. 3) with an evening of reflection, stories and songs in the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.
The event kicks off a year-long celebration of the program’s golden anniversary. The evening was anchored by three themes: how Music City is central to the music business program’s origin story and identity; the rich community built and sustained at Belmont; and the impact the program continues to have on students, alumni, the industry and the world.
“While there are incredibly talented creatives across this campus, the Curb College – and it’s pioneering music business program – is the major catalyst for sparking, nurturing and supporting the creative community that defines our culture,” said Belmont University President Dr. Greg Jones. “There is an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit here like no other. Tonight, we celebrate the gifted artists, writers, musicians, executives and more who flourished through Belmont to impact the industry, and look forward, striving to an even more dynamic future.”
Officially launched in 1973, Belmont’s music business program was woven together by visionaries who created an enduring legacy for Belmont within the music industry. With support from former University president Dr. Herbert Gabhart, beloved professor and program founder Bob Mulloy, and industry executive Cecil Scaife, and propelled forward by the incredible generosity of Mike Curb, the program has graduated more than 6,000 alumni throughout its 50 years.
Notable alumni on hand for the special evening included Rusty Gaston, CEO, Sony Music Publishing Nashville; Charlene Bryant, SVP of Business Development & Strategy, Universal Music Group Nashville; Sara Knabe, SVP of A&R, Big Loud; Frank Rogers CEO/Chief Creative, Spirit Music Nashville; Dan Franquemont, Head of Partnerships, Eventshop; and Blair Miller, Founder/CEO, Chaos Creators Entertainment.
The event featured special music as well, as musician/writer/producer Gordon Kennedy performed the 1997 Grammy-winning Song of the Year “Change the World,” along with co-writer Tommy Sims, with 2023 graduate Summer Joy and an ensemble of Fisk Jubilee Singers alumni taking lead on vocals. Songwriters and alumni Emily Falvey and Kelley Lovelace and music business faculty member Dwayne O’Brien also performed a writer’s round during the special evening.
During the event former Curb College Dean Doug Howard was presented with the Robert E. Mulloy Award of Excellence by alumnus and President/CEO of Warner Chappell Music, Ben Vaughn. A Curb College tradition, the award seeks to highlight and honor an individual who has had an important impact on the entertainment industry and has displayed notable service to Belmont University.
Curb College Dean Brittany Schaffer shared updates for the future for the college, from expanded course offerings to partnering with Falvey the newly launched Belmont Online to offer a fully asynchronous course, “The Art of Songwriting.” In addition, the Songwriters Hall of Fame exhibit, “The Power of Song,” — curated by the Grammy Museum — is making a stop on campus through April 2024.
“When I reflect on this evening, I’m touched by the shoulders we stand on,” said Schaffer. “Bob Mulloy started something special 50 years ago, and it’s truly humbling to have that mantle now to take this program into its next 50 years. The leaders who came before us have paved the way for a community of leaders who shape our culture with the work they do every day.”
Belmont’s Music Business 50th anniversary celebration will culminate April 9 as the University hosts the first-ever “Belmont at the Opry.” Performer announcements and a ticket on-sale date will be announced soon.