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MAC Club Makes Memories in Music City

by Chelsea Ayers

Over the Thanksgiving break, 14 members of the Media and Communication Club from WVU Parkersburg traveled to Nashville, TN to learn more about potential career paths and see first hand how the music industry works. I was lucky enough to be one of them.

The first day was all about karaoke, with the main event for Friday being Lonnie’s Western Room, (Nashville’s number one spot for karaoke). The MAC Club practiced singing during the roughly seven-hour-drive to Nashville. The karaoke bar also live broadcasts each night so, if you were tuned in, you could have heard Russ Bunner sing “Friends in Low Places,” Jessica Madison sing “Man I Feel Like A Woman,” or all of us singing “Country Roads.” After a fun filled evening of singing, it was time to relax for the big day ahead.

Saturday, we visited Starstruck Entertainment, which is owned and operated by Narvel Blackstock. Starstruck Entertainment manages talent for singers, songwriters, producers and recording engineers. Some of the more famous faces that have been managed through them include Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Keith Urban (who made his American debut in this studio).

While at Starstruck, C.O.O. Cliff Williamson gave us a first-hand tour to see how music is made. From the moment it comes into someone’s mind, to when it streams, we were able to see the process that makes the music we all love. We got to see individual writing rooms, recording spaces and the offices where the editors put the demo tracks together.

We had the pleasure of seeing Evan Coffman at work. He was putting a demo song together that will be played for producers to decided if it will be added onto an album. From there, we were able to see rooms that the music will be played in for producers to hear, lounge areas, green rooms and even where they hold the party for when someone hits number one on the charts.

As someone who is just getting into the core of my major, I couldn’t believe how much work goes into just one song. Being able to witness first hand how all the magic happens was such an eye opening experience, and I am so grateful that they opened their doors to us and made us feel welcome.

After touring Starstruck, we then headed to the Ryman Auditorium to take a tour of the place that Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and many more performed. After grabbing dinner and relaxing for a little while, we went back to the Ryman to watch a performance that included Connie Smith, Holly Williams, Devin Dawson, Aaron Tippin and LOCASH.

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The next day was a free day to explore. On Monday, we were able to tour Lightning 100, Nashville’s longest running independent radio station. While there, we had the pleasure of meeting with Jayson and Casey who are radio DJ’s at Lightning 100. They gave us the inside scoop on what it means to work in radio and the “do’s” and “dont’s” that they have learned along the way. They provided great insight to us that can be very beneficial for those that are pursuing the degree in broadcasting and for the many that have their own shows on the college’s radio station, WPKM 96.3.

After the trip, Jessica Madison, President of the MAC Club, was very pleased with the success of the trip and the enjoyment that everyone shared while there.

“I feel that the overall trip was eventful and knowledge filled that gave us an insight on other career paths we could choose.”

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