Lipscomb welcomes sibling trio, Daves Highway, along with new contemporary music program, this fall

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Lipscomb’s campus has been swaying to the sounds of Southern roots music this semester, as some of its newest students have become the hottest act on campus.

Delaney, Zachary and Erika Daves, the members of Daves Highway, a family singing trio that has recently released three full-length albums and an EP, became three of the first students in Lipscomb’s contemporary music program this fall.

They were drawn to Lipscomb after learning the producer of their EP, Charlie Peacock, a Grammy-Award-winning record producer, would direct Lipscomb’s newest music program.

With deep Southern roots, carefully crafted harmonies and a unique blend of country and folk played on a collection of instruments including the guitar, piano and mandolin, Daves Highway likens the tone and style of groups such as Needtobreathe, The Lumineers and The Civil Wars.

Coming from Mississippi roots, Delaney, a junior, as well as Zachary and Erika, who are sophomores, are all majoring in contemporary music and studying under the leadership of Peacock, who is also Lipscomb’s Artist-in-Residence and founding director of Lipscomb’s contemporary music program in the College of Entertainment & the Arts.

In 2009, Peacock caught wind of Daves Highway through a mutual friend who passed along a YouTube video of the group.

“I found out about the group from a trusted friend in the music business, Tricia Walker,” said Peacock. “From there I followed up with their father and we struck up a production and music publishing relationship.”

Later that year, Peacock offered to produce the group’s first studio EP titled, Just For You in Nashville.

Peacock, who has produced several award-winning groups including The Civil Wars and The Lone Bellow, admires Daves Highway’s natural ability and the way they are bringing their own uniqueness to a movement that many music legends have set before them.

“Both The Civil Wars and The Lone Bellow are rooted in a Southern aesthetic with deep American music roots, including gospel music,” Peacock explained. “Sibling harmony is so much a part of American roots music, and Daves Highway is adding its bit to this long history of vocal harmonies.”

Peacock was not the only one who saw Daves Highway’s potential from their YouTube posts.

As the trio continued to post covers of artists such as Needtobreathe, Little Big Town and the Eagles, Grammy Award-winning Christian artist Chris Tomlin also reached out to Daves Highway.

“Chris Tomlin saw one of our YouTube videos and tweeted that he would like for us to join him on stage one day,” said Delaney. “So on July 7, 2010, we got to join him on-stage in Memphis in front of 10,000 people to sing ‘Jesus Messiah.’ That was a surreal, rock star-kind-of-moment.”

Since recording its debut EP in 2009, Daves Highway has released three additional full-length albums including its most recent release, An Acoustic Christmas in November 2014.

Daves Highway also maintained its relationship with Peacock who shared that Lipscomb was launching a new College of Entertainment & the Arts featuring a new contemporary music program that would include academic programs in songwriting and music production. And with Peacock as the founding director, Delaney, Erika and Zachary made the decision to transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College to Lipscomb University in fall 2015.

“Charlie Peacock is our favorite person,” Zachary explained. “He is so professional about everything, and challenges us to be the best we can be. We have so much respect for him and his work.”

Erika echoed this sentiment and adds that Peacock’s impressive resume of works he has produced, gives her a lot of confidence in his training in the contemporary music program.

“We feel so lucky to be studying under his leadership,” said Erika. “Working with someone who has produced 50 percent of our favorite music is incredible.”

“He is also our teacher for our seminar class and is an introspective teacher,” Delaney continued, referencing Peacock’s unique teaching style. “He helps us learn more about ourselves, which ultimately helps us overall as a group.”

Peacock said the growing program also benefits from having a group like Daves Highway as students in this new and growing program.

“The trio brings a tremendous amount of performance experience to the contemporary music program,” Peacock explained. “Like a few other accomplished students, they’ve been out performing across the mid-South improving their craft and making fans.”

He continued, “As much as I love their music, I love them as people just as much.” 

Daves Highway wants to be a positive, uplifting voice as an alternative to the negativity they often see in their generation.

“We want to be a light in the music industry,” Zachary explained. “People want to be positive, and we want to be that outlet, while staying rooted in what we believe.”

Erika added, “We want to mix in with current artists, but we also want to be a group that parents would want their kids to listen to.”

The members of Daves Highway explained how excited they are to be able to hone their craft at Lipscomb, working under Lipscomb’s leadership and growing creatively with their peers. 

They also explained how they have already found multiple outlets to perform on-campus including: the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Family Fall festival, Lipscomb’s Founders’ Day Chapel, the faculty and staff annual fund picnic and Lipscomb’s Trunk or Treat.

Daves Highway is currently preparing for its first contemporary music program concert on Nov. 10. The concert features singer/songwriter Scott Mulvahill, and students in the program will perform 10 separate ensemble combinations with original compositions and covers of popular songs by All Sons & Daughters, alt-J, Avicii, The Beatles, Ellie Goulding, Tobias Jesso Jr. and more in Shamblin Theater at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on Daves Highway visit: or

School of Music formed, new contemporary music program added

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Lipscomb University recently announced the formation of a school of music that will expand its existing classical music program to include contemporary music undergraduate programs. The reorganization will allow the school to tap into industry resources available in Nashville as well as provide skilled professionals to help fill job demand.

Lipscomb’s school of music has traditionally offered undergraduate degrees in music, music education, composition, and performance (vocal, piano and instrumental). Now a contemporary music component, beginning this fall, will include academic programs in songwriting and music production.

“We have carefully examined our current school as well as the demand of the music marketplace here in Nashville and the industry across the country,” said Mike Fernandez, dean of the College of Entertainment & the Arts that houses the new school of music. “A recent Chamber of Commerce study of Nashville’s music industry shows that there is a real opportunity for budding independent, entrepreneurial musicians to learn their craft, to gain valuable experience and to pursue careers that will help fill the workplace demand for all facets of the music and entertainment industry.”

The study, conducted in partnership with the Music City Music Council, found that the music industry helps create and sustain an estimated 56,000 jobs within the Nashville area, supports more than $3.2 billion of labor income annually and contributes $5.5 billion to the local economy for a total output of $9.7 billion within the Nashville metropolitan statistical area.

“It just makes sense to expand our degree offerings in the school of music. While there are many questions about the economics of the music industry, one thing we know is that it is not going away. By offering these degrees we are showing that we will continue to grow and change in the same way Nashville does,” said Fernandez. “With this new approach to our school, we are making a statement to Nashville that we are serious about music and we are serious about training young minds that will artfully and faithfully contribute to the local economy and the general good".

The enhanced offering will increase opportunities for the university to collaborate with industry experts in the community.

“The name ‘school of music’ honors the quality of our music making, and is important to the music professionals we collaborate with, to the music community at-large and to the gifted students we hope to attract,” said Sally Reid, director of Lipscomb’s School of Music.

Industry experts say more music industry training and education are needed in Nashville.

“The timing for this kind of program at Lipscomb could not be better,” said singer/songwriter Amy Grant, a six-time Grammy Award winner. “With no intention to reinvent the ‘music business’ wheel that MTSU and Belmont offer, Lipscomb is poised to develop a streamlined, vibrant creative arts and entertainment program that is flexible, is spiritually vibrant and that teaches students the importance of storytelling. Flexibility and innovation are key as is integrating the students into existing facilities to learn aspects of the creative arts. Nashville has endless resources. I hope we can do something at Lipscomb that has never been done before.”

Producer and composer Charlie Peacock, Lipscomb artist-in-residence and senior A&R consultant at Downtown Music Publishing, agrees.

"The new Lipscomb University School of Music is right on time, especially when you consider the powerful combination of the present musical faithfulness of faculty and curriculum and the new emerging contemporary music program set for fall 2015,” said Peacock. “The school of music offers a diverse and vocationally solid approach to music education, helping create the music of tomorrow in the hearts and minds of students today.”

In addition to expanding its music program offerings, Lipscomb University has also developed partnerships with industry experts such as Peacock and others who serve as advisors and artists-in-residence for the program as well as a relationship with the Gospel Music Association, which has held its annual Dove Awards program on the Lipscomb campus the past two years with plans to continue that arrangement for at least the next two years. Earlier this month, the school became one of only 172 institutions around the world to receive the All-Steinway School designation after it purchased 16 Steinway pianos, to go along with the six already owned, to use Steinway instruments exclusively in the school.

The Lipscomb University School of Music is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music. The School of Music is also the first in the nation to require music majors to sit for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams. Along with its academic offerings, a number of private lessons and ensemble opportunities are open to students including the A Cappella Singers, University Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Opera Workshop, New Music Ensemble, String Ensemble and various chamber groups.

 For more information about Lipscomb’s music program, visit

School of Music now part of College of Entertainment and the Arts

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The Lipscomb University Board of Trustees has approved the formation of the new College of Entertainment and the Arts, bringing the number of colleges at the university to nine.

Building on the university’s strong liberal arts foundation, the College of Entertainment and the Arts will combine the university’s exceptional art, music and theatre departments with its fashion merchandising program and its graduate film and creative media program.  It will then add exciting new programs to prepare students for careers in contemporary music, digital entertainment, film, design, gaming and animation. The result will be a cutting-edge arts training ground with four major departments (music, visual arts, theatre, cinematic arts) and five new undergraduate programs planned in contemporary music, interactive media, film, fashion and design and dance. The college will also bring on board experts in the industry as artists-in-residence to shape its future. The college is an integration of several disciplines formerly in the College of Arts and Sciences

“Our arts programs have grown in recent years to become an even more vital part of the Lipscomb community,” said Lipscomb University Provost W. Craig Bledsoe. “By bringing these programs together into a college that focuses on these academic disciplines, it creates a synergy and provides more opportunities to collaborate than ever before. Several degrees in the college are one-of-a-kind in the region. The direction in which these programs are developing will help prepare our students especially for digitally oriented arts and entertainment careers that are growing in demand.”

Mike Fernandez, associate professor of theatre and chair of the department of theatre, has been appointed dean of the College of Entertainment and the Arts. Chair of the department since his arrival in 2008, Fernandez has expanded the scope of the university’s productions, grown the number of theatre students and faculty, added new formats such as dinner theater productions and outdoor performances and has worked to strengthen Lipscomb’s connections to local theater artists and companies. He also added a highly successful graduate film and creative media program, which has already partnered with local companies to produce two feature films, with plans this fall to work on two more.

“The blending of these disciplines into one college will foster a natural collaboration between classical and contemporary art forms,” said Fernandez, who was named outstanding director in 2012 by for his direction of “Doubt.” “We will bring in contemporary artists like award-winning music producer Charlie Peacock and critically acclaimed Disney animator Tom Bancroft to help create exciting programs and events to build on the strong foundation of each of our current disciplines. We will create a place where we all dream together about the role a Christian university should have in shaping culture through arts and entertainment.”

The new entity was named the College of Entertainment and the Arts based on recent research conducted in partnership with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Fernandez said this college is poised to make an impact not only on its students but the Nashville community as well.

“There isn’t a university as primed and ready to move to this more than Lipscomb,” said Fernandez. “Not only do we have a strong foundation to build on, but we are located in Nashville, which, along with its reputation as Music City, is quickly becoming a hub for film, theater and interactive arts. We are actively aligning ourselves with Nashville’s vision for art and entertainment by making connections in the community through professional film, theatre and music companies. That not only helps our program contribute in significant ways to preparing skilled and knowledgeable professionals to enter these fields, it also gives our students many hands-on opportunities to learn from experts in our community.”

The college has advisory boards for the film program and a new commercial music emphasis that includes some of the industry’s top talent such as singer-songwriter Amy Grant, Nate Owens and Nathan Chapman, producer for entertainer Taylor Swift, among others. In addition, Town Square Pictures serves as the college’s company-in-residence, filmmaker, producer, recording artist Steve Taylor serves as the filmmaker-in-residence, and Blackbird Theater serves as the college’s theater-troupe-in-residence.

“Nashville has built its reputation over the years as a city that values collaboration, and it’s now one of the world’s preeminent destinations for entertainment and the arts,” said Taylor. “The time is right and ripe for Lipscomb University to build a collaborative institution that brings entertainment and the arts together under one roof to train world-class, world-shaping artist entrepreneurs.”

“Lipscomb's commitment to excellence and a big picture view in a rapidly changing media landscape guarantees the most important quality for a program like this—relevance,” said Howie Klausner, screenwriter, producer and partner in Town Square Pictures. “Stay tuned, there’s some exciting stuff happening over here.”    

Lipscomb typically offered more traditional arts programs in the past. Fernandez said those programs are still significant pillars of the college, but “we are broadening our horizons.”

“Our research tells us that there is a need for additional programs that would focus on areas such as commercial music and interactive media such as gaming, animation and mobile app development as well as an undergraduate film program to build on our graduate film and creative media program,” he said.

Fernandez said an initiative of the college will be an interactive media program that is an interdisciplinary program with the College of Computing and Technology and the College of Business.  The new college is also planning to create a fashion and design program that will be a reengineering of its fashion merchandising program. It will include an emphasis in custom design areas like art decoration for TV and film, set design for theatre and commercial entertainment design for theme parks and industrial events. Fernandez said he plans to grow the number of students majoring in these subjects as well as enhance the facilities including a proposed state-of-the-art performing arts facility within five years.

“Artists are constantly reinventing themselves,” said Fernandez. “Lipscomb is reinventing itself so that it can move quickly into this arena and marketplace. Our vision really appeals to our students, industry leaders and the community. At the end of the day, we want to train students to be good storytellers, whether it be through music, visual arts, interactive arts, theater or other creative outlets. They can have an impact and leave a legacy that will benefit those who come after them in our university and in our community.”

One of 171 All-Steinway Schools in the world

All-Steinway School logoIn April 2015, Lipscomb University achieved the internationally respected “All-Steinway” status and now provides its students with all Steinway pianos for lessons, practicing and performing, accelerating the students to a higher level of musicianship that these superb instruments provide and demand.

The All-Steinway School designation is awarded by Steinway & Sons to universities, conservatories and other schools of distinction. Lipscomb University joined more than 170 institutions around the world who have earned this designation as of 2015. The school worked for eight years, phasing out non-Steinway pianos and raising funds, to achieve the designation. 

A 2013 Steinway & Sons study showed that music educators believe that an All-Steinway designation reflects a higher degree of quality in music education at the partnering institutions.


2007 — Jerome Reed, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Piano, led a trip to New York City to select a nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano for Ward Hall, which had just undergone a major renovation.

Oct. 2007 — Lipscomb’s first Steinway was dedicated at a concert featuring pianist Frederic Chiu.

2010 — Lipscomb added a second nine-foot Steinway concert grand as part of the renovation of Collins Alumni Auditorium. 

Dec, 2011 — A third Steinway grand was purchased for piano majors to use as a practice instrument.

April 2015 — The Lipscomb piano studio and several music faculty traveled to the Steinway factory in New York City to hand select two of the pianos that were part of the final group of pianos purchased.

April 2015 — 16 Steinway pianos were delivered to Lipscomb’s School of Music, completing the requirements for the All-Steinway designation.