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Belmont University’s Mike Curb College to Host First-Ever NARAS and MEIEA Music Industry Education Summit; Belmont’s Mike Curb College Alumnus Named Record Label President

The Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University today announced two notable events that illustrate why it’s positioned as one of the top music business schools in the nation. On November 11, Belmont will host the 2006 Music Industry Education Summit, the first-ever joint summit by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and The Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA); and on November 2 Belmont alumnus, Mark Wright, successful songwriter, producer and music executive, was officially named president of Universal South Records.
“We are thrilled to have these two events happen simultaneously–Mark’s announcement and the partnership between The Recording Academy and the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association for the summit,” Dean Wesley Bulla of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business said. “It is a feather in our cap to be chosen as host to an important event like this at the same time that our alumni are out there succeeding in the industry.”
’06 Music Summit is First-Ever NARAS and MEIEA Collaboration; Belmont to Host
The dynamic daylong event on November 11 is composed of panels, roundtable discussions and workshops aimed at improving the educational experience of future generations of music and entertainment industry professionals. Both The Recording Academy and MEIEA express their desire to “begin the process of building a common vernacular,” the summit announcement says.
“Our long-term goals are to raise the bar and improve the quality of music and entertainment industry education for students in programs nationwide,” Bulla said. “Bridging the gap and improving dialogue between music educators and those who work in the industry is what this is all about.”
The event will include keynote speaker Daryl Friedman, VP of Advocacy & Government Relations for The Recording Academy, plus other industry executive panelists such as Tracy Gershon, VP of A & R at Warner Brothers; Bill Hearn, president/CEO of EMI Christian Music Group; Denise Stiff, owner of DS Management (manages Alison Kraus); Mark Montgomery, managing partner and manager at Echomusic, (clients include Dierks Bentley and Kelly Clarkson) and Ken Levitan, president of Vector Management and co-president of Combustion Music (manages Emmy Lou Harris). Belmont professors David Herrera, James Elliott and Dave Tough will serve as panel facilitators. Topics will range from publishing, licensing and record label operations to management, marketing, recording technology and production. A songwriting session by Mike Reid who wrote “I Can’t Make You Love Me” recorded by Bonnie Rait will wrap up the Saturday seminar.
Among the 28 institutions involved are Belmont University, Berklee College of Music, Washington State University, University of Miami, Georgia State University, Northeastern University, California State-Chico, University of Colorado and Cal Poly Pomona. A total of 42 music educators from those institutions will be participating. Visit http://www.meiea.org/ for more information.
Belmont/Mike Curb College Alumnus Mark Wright Named Universal South President
An achievement by one of Belmont’s alumni marks another success in Belmont’s history of producing “stars” in the entertainment field. On November 2, Belmont alumnus, Mark Wright, known for his work as a successful songwriter, producer and music executive, was officially named president of Universal South Records.
“Mark transferred to Belmont in the fall of 1976 from the University of Arkansas to study in the music business program,” Doug Howard, also a Belmont alumnus and Wright’s long-time friend who now serves as SR VP of A & R at Disney-owned Lyric Street Records, said. “That’s when we met. I was here for the same reason, to study music business.”
Wright came to town and attended Belmont with the goal to someday be president of a record label, Howard says. In the years that followed, Mark attained great success as a writer, award-winning producer and respected music executive.
As one of Nashville’s most prolific and respected creative executives, Wright is credited with more than 30 million units in sales and over fifty-five No. 1 hit singles that he’s written and produced. As a talent finder, he discovered and signed such gold and platinum artists as Josh Turner and Lee Ann Womack (also Belmont alumni), Gretchen Wilson and Gary Allan. As a songwriter, he has won over a dozen BMI Awards for such songs as Mark Chesnutt’s “Goin’ Through The Big D,” the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Lucky Moon” and “Today My World Slipped Away,” recorded by both George Strait and Vern Gosdin. He also produced Lee Ann Womack’s chart-topper, “I Hope You Dance,” which earned him multiple honors, including the 2000 CMA Single of the Year and a Grammy nomination as a producer.
“I am fortunate to be starting the next phase of my career back in the Universal family and look forward to building upon the great work already done by Tim Dubois and Tony Brown at Universal South,” quoted Wright in an article in Music Row News. “It’s always been a dream of mine to run a record company and I feel that my whole career has been leading up to this moment.”
Wright has shaped hit records for such superstars as Belmont grad Trisha Yearwood , Montgomery Gentry, Clint Black, Mark Chestnutt, Gary Allan, Los Lonely Boys, Brooks & Dunn and Van Zant, among many others. His most recent accomplishments include discovering and developing Grammy Award-winning superstar Gretchen Wilson.
Wright began his career as a songwriter, penning songs for the likes of Alabama, Amy Grant, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers and George Strait. In 1984, he joined RCA Records in the A&R department and his tenure there included co-production of the highly acclaimed multi-platinum debut of Clint Black.
After leaving RCA to become an independent producer, he had platinum success with artists like Mark Chestnutt and Lee Ann Womack. In 1994 he joined the Universal Music Group family, first as Senior Vice President of Decca Records, Nashville, and then, as Executive Vice President of A&R for MCA Records Nashville. In June of 2003, he assumed his current position as Sony Nashville’s Executive Vice President of A&R. He’ll start his new position early next year.

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