MTSU Hands-On Learning At Grammys

Feb 04, 2023 at 07:02 am by WGNS

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center, chats with students and faculty on the red carpet MusiCares event. At far left is Odie Blackmon, songwriting associate professor, and at far right is recording industry assistant professor Denise Shackelford. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

(LOS ANGELES) Middle Tennessee State University' College of Media and Entertainment students and faculty returned to LA for the Grammy Award with a long weekend of gathering with area alumni and attending backstage and pre-show events.

President Sidney A. McPhee joined students and faculty on the red carpet at Friday’s (2/3/2023) exclusive MusiCares event honoring Motown founder Berry Gordy and Grammy-winning musical giant Smokey Robinson. Students worked behind-the-scenes at the Los Angeles Convention Center at the event, the Grammy’s black-tie fundraiser for its charity that provides health and human services for music professionals.


“It’s so exciting,” said Tyra Akoto, a recording industry senior from Memphis, Tennessee. “This is such an amazing opportunity to network and experience the industry in LA.”

Students with Akoto on the red carpet were Brady Armstrong, an audio production senior from Edenton, North Carolina; Daniel Carter, a music business senior from Helena, Montana; Stephanie Hall, a media studies sophomore from Lenoir City; and Zoe Willott, a graduate student in recording arts and technologies from St. Louis. Sarah Oppmann, a journalism and theatre senior from Murfreesboro, was there as well, covering MTSU at the Grammys for student media.

“Being able to go to Grammy week is an incredible opportunity and experience,” Carter said. “This will help my career through networking as well as give me a better understanding of the music industry that I'm passionate about. I'm extremely thankful for being here.”

In addition to McPhee and Provost Mark Byrnes, Media and Entertainment Dean Beverly Keel and professors Odie Blackmon, Michelle Conceison and Cosette Collier connected with students and alumni at the Los Angeles events.

Later Friday evening, McPhee and Byrnes hosted a reception in Santa Monica for MTSU’s Southern California alumni from all of its colleges. MTSU will host an event in Los Angeles Saturday (2/4/2023) for its Grammy nominees. 

“Bringing recording industry students to Los Angeles during Grammy Week has become an important tradition for MTSU because it is vital that our students be immersed in important industry events,” Keel said. “This gives our students a chance to learn from the best and see firsthand how the music business operates.

“By having intimate conversations with music industry leaders, including our alumni, and meeting executives and artists that they have read about, it shows students that their dreams can become reality.”

Five former MTSU students have been nominated in the 65th annual Grammy Awards. MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 134 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades.

The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 currently stands at 15 people with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.

The 2023 Grammys will air live Sunday evening (2/5/2023) from 7:00 to 10:30PM on CBS and the Paramount+ networks from the Arena in Los Angeles.