Adjunct Instructor of Music (Songwriting) Music Kenny Sharpless, B.A., invited Michaela Brayboy ’22 (Bachelor of Arts in Recording & Audio Arts) and Chase Greene ’22 (Bachelor of Arts in Recording & Audio Arts) to travel to Nashville, Tennessee, during spring break to explore the professional music scene and connect with industry professionals. Sharpless commutes from Nashville to teach popular songwriting courses at the conservatory.
“I think both of them are extremely talented and driven, so I mainly wanted them to be able to get a feel for the life of a music professional in a (or the) Music City,” said Sharpless. “They are both seniors now, and I think in preparing for the next phase in their careers, it served them best to have a window into their chosen profession that I could not explain as well in a classroom setting.”
Sharpless took the two seniors to meetings with an A&R at his publisher Prescription Songs (Billboard top 5 grossing publisher of pop for 2021), sitting in on a session with platinum-selling producer David “Messy” Mescon (Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, Yo Gotti credits), writing and recording their own song in the Prescription office, and performing live at a popular music venue for up-and-coming singer-songwriters in Printers Alley, downtown Nashville.
“The trip to Nashville was eye opening for me,” said Greene. “We were constantly surrounded by extremely talented artists and worked side-by-side with people establishing themselves in the music industry. Every meeting we had was an opportunity to network and collaborate with experienced artists. Because of the skills we learned from professor Sharpless, we felt confident and could take advantage of each opportunity. Learning about songwriting and the music industry in a classroom setting is one thing, but getting out there and applying these skills in person was the best learning experience I’ve ever had. I think any aspiring artist should take professor Sharpless’s class and pick up as many skills as possible because he’s been there and will give you industry insight and techniques that will take you to the next level. Although I have a long way to go before I make my way into the music industry, the skills I’ve learned from professor Sharpless will stick with me for the rest of my career.”
Songwriting is a crucial ingredient for many students enrolled in the growing collaborative audio arts undergraduate program (formerly known as the recording and audio arts program).
“Professor Sharpless has been instrumental in helping to build the conservatory’s reputation for developing quality songwriters in the publishing community,” said Assistant Professor of Music Production & Recording Technology Graham Spice, M.S. “I know that Kenny’s involvement in their careers has meant a lot to these two seniors. We are all excited for their joint senior project presentation event at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, in the Harold Herman Lab Theatre.”
“I have worked with both Michaela and Chase for over two years now,” said Sharpless. “While they have impressed me with their musical ability, their passion and commitment are what separates them and anyone I know who has been successful in this industry. Chase has released at least two full projects since I met him, and Michaela has grown exponentially as a vocalist and producer to receive her first sync placement in a movie a month or so back. They are my students right now, but I learn from them just as much and recognize them as peers and colleagues in what I consider a very tough industry. I think this trip was a powerful motivating and educational experience that will embolden them on their chosen paths, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.”