Wednesday, April 30, 2014

[559] MTSU’s Bonner co-chairing Main Street JazzFest 2014

MTSU Jazz Ensemble 1, MTSU Faculty Combo also to perform

MURFREESBORO — Main Street JazzFest 2014 will carry deep MTSU ties, with Dr. Gloria Bonner co-chairing this year’s edition of the highly anticipated local music tradition.

Now in its 18th year, the annual musical celebration is set for Friday and Saturday, May 2-3, in downtown Murfreesboro. The event features free admission, free parking and free entertainment as well as a wide variety of food vendors in the heart of the city.

Bonner, special assistant to President Sidney A. McPhee in the Office of University Community Relations, said the festival is expected to attract thousands of jazz enthusiasts to downtown.

Volunteers are still needed for the two-day event, which will be held on two stages. To sign up to help, visit

“It’s an exciting time,” said Bonner, who is co-chairing the event with husband Ray Bonner. “We’re encouraging families and community members to just hang out with us downtown.”

An added attraction this year is “Jazz After Dark,” which will showcase various artists playing live at select venues downtown after JazzFest officially ends Saturday night. Among those performing will be the latest rendition of famed R&B/soul group The Drifters.

The Southeast Tourism Society has named JazzFest one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for May 2014.

“This is a true music festival,” said Kathleen Herzog, director of Main Street Murfreesboro/Rutherford County Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to downtown revitalization “It’s a diverse, multicultural family friendly event. You don’t want to miss this.”

Area high school bands will once again kick off the festival Friday night beginning at 6 p.m. Music resumes at 11 a.m. Saturday, featuring a free children’s area from noon to 6 p.m. and a free jazz clinic led by singer/songwriter Kevin Whalum at 3:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts downtown.

Saturday afternoon’s musical lineup includes the Murfreesboro Youth Jazz Orchestra, MTSU Jazz Ensemble I and MTSU Faculty Combo. Saturday night’s lineup will feature regional and local talent including the Marcus Finnie Band, Dara Tucker, Joe Davidian and Friends, Joe Johnson, and the 129thArmy Jazz Band.

Emceeing the festivities will be Greg Lee Hunt, program director at WMOT-FM 89.5, MTSU’s 100,000-watt public radio station. WMOT staff will be on hand for attendees to take advantage of various giveaways including CD’s, gift certificates, etc.

For more information and the complete lineup, visit

[558] From paper art to vampire slaying, latest MTSU iMagazine offers great stories

Digital mini-edition offers multimedia content

MURFREESBORO — From an MTSU professor’s research on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to an interview with NFL quarterback hopeful Logan Kilgore, the newest digital mini-version of MTSU Magazine covers a broad swath of topics for the university’s growing web and app audiences to enjoy.

Available through the MTSU Magazine app for iPads, iPhones and Android devices, the electronic-only version includes several stories with multimedia content that aren’t available in print. The MTSU Mag app is available in the iTunes store (click the image at right) and at Google Play.

The latest mini-edition includes:
  • A profile of David Lavery, director of Graduate Studies in English at MTSU, and his quest to craft a new pop culture canon that traverses Wallace Stevens to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • A conversation with recently graduated MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore, whose NFL hopes rest on his arm and on his head.
  • A more personal look at the impact MTSU’s underwater treadmills have had in providing the next step for many suffering severe mobility impairment.
  • An explanation of the placement of the stately lion sculptures outside the Honors College — non-living embodiments of its nobler aspirations.
  • An exploration of how The James E. Walker Library and its staff deftly ride the digital humanities wave.
  • A visual journey through the eyes of alumnus and MTSU professor Charles Clary, whose art cuts both ways.
  • An article detailing the evolution of home economics to the human sciences and the program’s proud tradition at MTSU.

The content included in the mini-magazine also is available online at
The next print edition of MTSU Magazine will reach MTSU alumni and friends by mail in July 2014.

[557] Forensic science symposium set May 3 at MTSU for middle-, high-schoolers

MURFREESBORO — Youngsters in grades seven through 12 will present their original projects in forensic science at the third annual MTSU Forensic Science Symposium, scheduled for Saturday, May 3, in the Student Union’s second-floor ballrooms.

The science fair, which is sponsored by MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, is open to students in Tennessee and beyond and showcases the students’ original research in various fields of forensic science.

To help introduce the young students to the experience of research gathering and presentation, the event is organized in the form of a professional scientific meeting. Students will present their original research in poster form to be judged on Saturday by community leaders in various fields of science and forensic science.

Students got their research underway earlier this year to submit their applications and abstracts by the March 31 deadlines. The presenters were notified of their acceptance earlier this month.

MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, also known as FIRE, provides educational and training opportunities for law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners, attorneys, social workers and other groups in forensic science and homeland security.

First-, second- and third-place finishers will receive cash awards. The first-place winner’s sponsoring teacher also will receive a special prize and recognition during the awards ceremony.

Abstracts of all accepted projects will be printed in the official “Forensic Science Symposium Proceedings Journal.”

For more information, contact the FIRE offices at 615-494-7713 or email symposium coordinator Tiffany Saul at

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

[556] MTSU professor reunites with Take 6 pals for Gospel Hall of Fame induction

MURFREESBORO — MTSU School of Music professor Cedric Dent and his longtime colleagues in the multi-award-winning group Take 6 are adding another line to their resumes: members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

The renowned a capella sextet, formed in 1980 while they attended college in Alabama, will join the Gospel Music Association's top roster of honorees in a special ceremony at Lipscomb University in Nashville Tuesday, April 29.

Dent, who joined the MTSU faculty in 2005 and teaches courses in music theory, history of black gospel music, vocal jazz ensemble and music industry, maintained an active touring schedule with Take 6 until 2011, when he stepped down to teach full-time.

Tonight's induction ceremony is set to feature a special reunion of Take 6, which now includes two other members who replaced Dent and one of the founders. The celebration will be streamed live online beginning at 7 p.m. Central at

“Take 6 laid the foundation for what has become the norm for professional and collegiate vocal jazz ensembles today,” Dent says, referring to the popularity of televised vocal competitions such as the a cappella show “The Sing-Off” and singing-driven comedies and dramas like “Glee” and “Smash.”

“Being innovators in the field is one of the accomplishments of which I'm most proud.”

The group’s resounding harmonies, of which Dent’s rich baritone played an integral part, were reason enough to garner attention for Take 6.

Dent says the harmonies were only the start, however, pointing to the “big-band … chord voicings, gospel music-inflected solos, a bass vocalist imitating upright and electric bass riffs, and finger snaps keeping time in tunes employing a jazz swing feel” that also mark a Take 6 performance.

Take 6 has released 18 albums so far, earning 12 Grammy Awards, 10 Dove Awards, a Soul Train Award and more for their work, along with the distinction as the most Grammy-nominated vocal group in history.

Also inducted into the 2013 class of the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame with Take 6 will be:

·       multi-award-winning producer, songwriter and music leader Brown Bannister, who's worked for the last 30 years with top artists like Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, CeCe Winans and Mercy Me.
·       the Gaither Vocal Band, a gospel quintet that emerged from a 1980s backstage singalong before a Bill Gaither Trio concert that became an award-winning success on its own.
·       the late singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, whose song "Awesome God" has become a staple of countless modern worship services.

Dent, who earned a doctoral degree in music theory while making a living touring and recording with Take 6, says the most enjoyable aspects of his career have been the travel opportunities.

“I've literally seen the world,” he says. “I've also met very interesting people. Take 6 has met and sang for five U.S. presidents and for Nelson Mandela while he was president of South Africa. Another wonderful perk has been performing and recording with some of the most talented people in the music business, from Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder to Don Henley, David Foster, Bobby McFerrin, Queen Latifah, Herbie Hancock and k.d. lang.”

He’s been able to incorporate his life experiences into the classroom to help his students prepare for their lives as professional musicians and teachers, too.

“When parents and potential students express concern about making a living in the field of music, I point to my experience with Take 6 as an example of what can be accomplished,” Dent says. “I hasten to add, however, that students should also be thinking of how to produce multiple streams of income. It is quite rare for someone to make a living from one source or job the way my parents' generation did. This is true in most industries today and even more critical in the music industry.

“My experience is a wonderful testament to this reality. … I made a comfortable living from Take 6, guest lecturing, and as a college professor for several years. And when I was ready to retire from Take 6 to pursue teaching and research, I was able to make the transition based purely on my goals and dreams and not because of financial limitations.”

He also was able to incorporate his experience and training into his advanced degrees, building on Take 6’s black religious quartet singing tradition to create his doctoral dissertation, a popular MTSU course on the history of black gospel music offered every fall, and an upcoming book.

The Gospel Music Hall of Fame has been recognizing renowned members of the music community since 1971, from its first inductees, G.T. "Pop" Speer of the beloved Speer Family, and Jim "Pappy" Waits, the dean of the gospel bass singers, to last year's inductees, which included the incomparable Aretha Franklin and bluegrass ambassador Ricky Skaggs.

The men of Take 6 won’t be resting on their latest laurel long. The group recently established a scholarship for jazz studies majors with a vocal concentration in MTSU’s School of Music.

“Working with Take 6 has had a direct effect on my research and teaching,” Dent says. “I hope that the publicity garnered from being inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame will draw attention to the ‘Take 6 Vocal Jazz Scholarship Fund’ as well as my research in the field of gospel music.”


[555] MTSU Alumni Relations plans summer of fun activities across state

Events include baseball games, Dollywood, Nashville Shores

MURFREESBORO — The MTSU Alumni Association is planning a summer of fun for alumni and friends of the university.

Special alumni nights at baseball games being played across Tennessee in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Memphis, Nashville and Jackson and outings at Nashville Shores and Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, are scheduled.

Reservation details, including ticket prices for the various events, can be found at

“We’ve lined up some great activities for our alumni and friends and their families,” said Paul Wydra, MTSU Alumni Relations assistant director.

“We’re pretty excited about the MTSU month at Dollywood,” Wydra added. “This is our first time to do that, and it’s a generous discount. We thought it would be really convenient that they could have any one day in the month of July to go.”

The complete schedule:

• 6 p.m. ET Thursday, May 1 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Night at the Chattanooga Lookouts, AT&T Field, 201 Power Alley, in Chattanooga. Gates open at 6; first pitch for Lookouts vs. Tennessee Smokies Class AA Southern League game will be at 7:15;

• 5 p.m. Friday, May 2 — Young Alumni tailgate at MTSU vs. Kent State, Reese Smith Jr. Stadium at the intersection of Faulkinberry Drive and Champion Way (a printable campus map can be found at
). First pitch: 6 p.m. Online code for young alumni 35 and under to receive $4 tickets: “TRUEBLUE;”

• 5 p.m. Saturday, June 7 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Night at the Memphis Redbirds, AutoZone Park, 200 Union Ave., in downtown Memphis. Gates open at 5 p.m.; first pitch for Redbirds vs. Nashville Sounds Class AAA Pacific Coast League game will be at 6:05. Deadline to register: Friday, May 23;

• 6:05 p.m. Friday, June 13 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Night with the Nashville Sounds, Herschel Greer Stadium, 534 Chestnut St., in Nashville. Gates open at 6:05 p.m. First pitch for Sounds vs. Tacoma Rainers Class AAA PCL game will be at 7:05;

• 6:05 p.m. Friday, July 11 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Night with the Jackson Generals, The Ballpark at Jackson, 4 Fun Place, just off Interstate 40 in Jackson. Gates open at 6:05; first pitch for the Generals vs. Birmingham Barons Class AA Southern League game will be at 7:05. Note: Admission to this game is free for alumni and friends and MTSU students wearing any MTSU apparel;

• 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, July 25 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Day at Nashville Shores, 4001 Bell Road, Hermitage, Tennessee. Admission fees include entrance to the park and lunch. Make online reservations by Tuesday, July 15; and

• July 1-31 — MTSU Alumni and Friends Month at Dollywood theme park, 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Discounted adult and children’s tickets must be purchased online, with a reservation deadline of Friday, June 20;

The food at all four ballparks and Nashville Shores (a one-hour buffet from noon to 1 p.m.) will be all you can eat, Wydra said.

For more information, call 615-898-2922.