An Inside Look into the Nashville Music Scene
Over spring break, Berklee students attended industry trips to L.A., Nashville, and New York City. Here, Angela Morano, a participant from the Nashville trip, shares highlights from the experience in her own words.
From songwriting clinics with Gillian Welch ’92 and Gary Burr to bluegrass jamming at the Station Inn, this year’s Berklee’s Nashville trip was an unforgettable experience that allowed me and my fellow students to peer into the lives of industry professionals, many of whom were also Berklee alumni.
Arriving in Nashville after a nearly 24-hour bus ride, students got right to work fostering their new friendships (courtesy of the bus ride) and exploring the city. On Saturday, we kicked off the trip with a mind-blowing clinic from songwriter Gary Burr who walked us through his song “Can’t Be Really Gone.” Getting to hear the in-depth explanation of each line and melodic choice was inspirational to say the least. He closed out his clinic with his song “A Thousand Wild Horses,” which immediately brought tears to my eyes and has continued to make me emotional each time I listen to the song.
This intriguing clinic set the precedent for the rest of the trip—every speaker that came in had such a personal story regarding their climb to success, giving hope to the starry-eyed students that sat patiently in the audience. Not only did the daytime speakers provide useful information, but there were engaging events in the evening that allowed for students to participate and get a taste of life in Nashville.
Jamming at the Iconic Station Inn
The Station Inn is an old-school, seated music venue that is so popular, it eventually becomes standing-room only. People of all ages come together to watch seasoned bluegrass musicians sing and play all into one microphone hanging from the ceiling. You have to really listen to understand the lyrics over all of the hooting and intense guitar fingerpicking, but lyrics aren’t really the point, despite it being a Nashville venue; it's more about the community that forms in the venue every single night. Berklee students got up and joined these skilled bluegrass musicians, adding layers of trombone, guitar, and flute.
Claude Kelly's Hard-Won Career Wisdom
The more time we spent in Nashville, the more all of our notebooks filled up with quotes, advice, and song lyrics that resonated with us. Another speaker that blew me away was Claude Kelly B.M. ’12—singer, songwriter, and producer for artists such as Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, and Miley Cyrus, to name a few. Kelly’s path to success was not an easy one. I believe that learning about these hardships incurred from pursuing music as a career was a very insightful and realistic conversation to be had with the students. After hearing about his experiences, we listened to familiar songs such as “Circus” by Britney Spears, “My Life Would Suck Without You” by Kelly Clarkson, and “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus—all of which Kelly worked on. It was truly a delight witnessing such success from a Berklee alum as well as getting to see first-hand that many genres of music exist in Nashville, not just country music.
Years of Experience in Five Days
The Berklee Nashville trip helps to highlight the importance of acknowledging the great legends of the music industry, while also encouraging students like myself to go to Nashville and contribute to the new wave that is crashing on the shore of the music industry. Being able to peer into the lives of professionals who started just as we are is an unreal experience, and I think that everybody should attend this trip—especially my fellow songwriters! I have gained what feels like years of experience from these action-packed five days. From bluegrass jams and emotional seminars to networking events and Berklee alumni concerts, the Nashville trip is a must for all aspiring musicians and industry professionals.