BEHIND THE MUSIC
Four MTSU alums fuel the fame of country music’s biggest act
By Drew Ruble
Earlier this year at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, site of the 53rd annual Grammy awards, there was a big winner.
Yes, Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley of the country music trio Lady Antebellum picked up five out of the six awards for which they were nominated on that night, including record of the year, song of the year, best country performance by a duo or group, best country song, and best country album.
But MTSU was a big winner too. Behind the scenes of those five Grammy awards were a significant number of Blue Raiders, all of whom were critical – and remain essential – to the wild success Lady A continues to experience.
It All Begins with a Song
Not all MTSU graduates who have gone on to be hit commercial songwriters have come out of the university’s lauded music industry program. Josh Kear (’96), Cum Laude, a history major, wrote the 2011 Grammy song of the year and country song of the year, “Need You Now,” with members of Lady Antebellum. They were Kear’s second and third Grammy. He previously won the Grammy country song of the year in 2007 for Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Kear, who got his first publishing deal at the age of 21 with BMG Publishing, has been working with powerhouse independent Big Yellow Dog Publishing since 2002.
Roll of the Dice
It’s hard to believe that at one point in time, prior to the mega-stardom they’ve experienced as a band over the past few years, Lady Antebellum was considered a risky act to sign. MTSU graduate BJ Hill (’00), currently senior director of artist and repertoire (A&R) at Warner/Chappell Music (where he interned while an MTSU student) is well-known on Music Row for his dogged pursuit of Lady Antebellum, capturing the publishing rights of the recording trio. Hill’s other clients include one of Music Row’s hottest songwriters, Wendell Mobley, whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts and Reba McEntire.
Clarke Schleicher (B.S. ’80) was on stage with Lady Antebellum at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles earlier this year to receive his Grammy for audio-engineering work on the song “Need You Now,” which won record of the year, and for the album of the same name, which won best country album. Schleicher manages the Nashville recording studios for Warner Bros. Records and also works as an independent recording engineer. His professional credits include projects with Neil Young, Joan Baez, Marie Osmond, Martina McBride, Travis Tritt, the Dixie Chicks, Amy Grant and Taylor Swift.
Wonder what the band is like in person? Daniel Miller (’00) would know. He’s an associate manager for Borman Entertainment and the day-to-day point person for the group.
Worth mentioning is that Hillary Scott, the singer/songwriter who makes up one-third of Lady Antebellum, attended MTSU but did not graduate. Hillary – MTSU’s adult degree completion program is the nation’s best! We can help you attain your degree! Call us!