Three major Nashville organizations—Belmont University, the Mike Curb Family Foundation and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame—announced today an exciting new partnership focused on the foundation of the music industry: songwriting. Intended to create visibility and understanding of the songwriting craft, the partnership includes the establishment of a new songwriting major in Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business and a permanent location for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, both of which will be housed in historic 34 Music Square East on Music Row.
With a mantra to “Celebrate the Songwriter,” the event opened with Hall of Fame member Dolly Parton offering her thoughts. “When I first came to Nashville, all of us would just get in a huddle to try to write together, folks like me and Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson,” Parton said. “Most of us barely got through high school, much less college. Belmont has done a wonderful thing as a university and with the music program, and I think it’s great how they are embracing songwriting.”
The building at 34 Music Square East—which is the former home of the legendary Quonset Hut, Columbia Studio A, Columbia and Epic Records, and Sony Music Nashville—joins Ocean Way and RCA Studio B as yet another valuable Music Row extension of the Curb College. Mike Curb said, “Belmont students can now further enrich their education of this industry’s history in Nashville in the historic Columbia Records Building and the historic Quonset Hut Recording Studio, the first recording studio on Music Row where great artists such as Marty Robbins, Sonny James, Patsy Cline and Brenda Lee recorded numerous hit records.”
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher, who tried to convince Parton to forego her “day job” to join the Curb College faculty, noted the immense opportunities the new partnership would offer. “It’s going to be a great learning environment for our students to come and learn and grow… [Though the students are young], like we saw with Josh Turner, they can turn their ideas into great songs.”
This fall Belmont became one of the first accredited universities in the nation to offer a major in songwriting with 50 student songwriters filling the first two introductory courses to capacity. Songwriting veterans Thom Schuyler and Bob Regan have joined the Curb College faculty as adjunct instructors to teach Introduction to Songwriting, the first course offered in the new major. Schuyler’s hit songs include “Love Will Turn You Around” (Kenny Rogers), “A Long Line of Love” (Michael Martin Murphy), and “I Fell In Love Again Last Night” (Forester Sisters),“ while some of Regan’s top cuts include “Your Everything” (Keith Urban), “Every Time I Cry” (Terry Clark), “Busy Man” (Billy Ray Cyrus), and “Thinking about You” (Trisha Yearwood).
James I. Elliott, coordinator of the songwriting program and a Dove Award-winning songwriter, said, “We are very excited to have these two great songwriters and industry leaders partner with us to launch our new major. It is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn from such accomplished songwriters.”
Belmont’s new neighbor, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, is the first such organization honoring songwriters to emerge from a virtual entity to one with a physical location. Parton counts membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame among her highest accolades. “I’m just a poor wayfaring songwriter proud to finally have a home,” Parton said. “I’m very excited about the new Hall of Fame.”
With the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame also housed in the 34 Music Square East building, Belmont students majoring in songwriting won’t need to look far for mentors and inspiration.
“The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation is honored and excited about this partnership and the synergies it presents,” Roger Murrah, the foundation’s chairman and a 2005 inductee of the Hall of Fame, said. “We helped design the curriculum for the songwriting major, and our members are willing and available to share our experiences with aspiring writers. We hope we’re also a source of inspiration for them. This partnership gives us a chance to give back… It completes the circle—honoring the very best songwriters while training the next generation.”
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame currently boasts 162 members, including songwriting luminaries such as Bill Anderson, Gary Burr, Johnny Cash, Rodney Crowell, Sonny Curtis, Bob Dylan, Don & Phil Everly, Vince Gill, Harlan Howard, Bob McDill, Roger Miller, Bill Monroe, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Carl Perkins, Jimmie Rodgers, Cindy Walker, Jimmy Webb and Hank Williams, Sr. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame seeks to educate, archive, celebrate and honor the legacy of songwriting that is uniquely associated with the Nashville music community.