November 20, 2023 : By Christian Shields - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University alumnus and United States Air Force veteran Jamie Teachenor (’22) continues to follow God’s calling on his life, whether it’s through serving as a university professor, singing on the Grand Ole Opry, or authoring the official anthem for the U.S. Space Force.
Teachenor, who graduated with a Ph.D. in Education from Liberty University Online Programs, originally had little plans of pursuing a career in the military and instead focused his attention on music. While earning an associate degree from Oakland City University, he joined a singing group that traveled to promote the school and share the Gospel.
In 2001, Teachenor moved to Nashville, Tenn., and began a career in songwriting, composing songs for and recording with music stars such as Luke Bryan, Trace Adkins, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blake Shelton, and Trisha Yearwood. After working in this field for over 10 years, he began questioning whether he was truly finding his identity in Christ or in his profession.
“In 2011, I began realizing that I was finding too much security and identity in the music industry,” he said. “As a disciple of Christ, I need to make sure that my identity comes solely from Jesus as opposed to coming from other places.”
A few years after feeling this initial pulling, Teachenor saw a Craigslist advertisement seeking a vocalist to join the Air Force Academy band, Wild Blue Country. He was so confident this opportunity was God’s direction for his life, Teachenor added Colorado Springs (the site of the Air Force Academy) to his phone’s weather app even before auditioning for the job.
Teachenor spent the next four years serving as a vocalist in the band while continuing schooling through the tuition assistance provided by the G.I. Bill. This included completing his bachelor’s degree from Oakland City University and earning an MBA from Troy University. During this time, he felt led to attend Liberty University and began his doctorate work after receiving his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 2019.
“I knew all along I wanted to go to Liberty because it’s very military friendly,” he said. “I love the motto Training Champions for Christ which was very much in line with what God had revealed to me. I needed to make sure I find all my identity in Jesus. Everything else must be less important.”
It was during his time at Liberty that Teachenor was asked to submit an option to be considered for the anthem of the U.S. Space Force, which was officially founded in December 2019. Having spent years working alongside Air Force Space Command (later renamed U.S. Space Command) during his service, he was situated to write a piece that properly conveyed the story and heart of the new branch. In January 2020, he submitted the first draft of what would eventually be named “Semper Supra” (Latin for “Always Above”), the official Space Force anthem.
“Ultimately, the valuable mission carried out daily by the Space Force guardians helped me write the song. I focused on the rich history of space and all the amazing things they do day-in and day-out while wearing the uniform.”
Teachenor continued to refine the song, while also balancing his Liberty schoolwork.
Two years after penning the draft, he was summoned to the Pentagon to discuss his work, causing him to miss his degree presentation ceremony at Liberty. Despite missing the actual ceremony, Teachenor still visited campus that weekend to participate in the main Commencement and military graduate recognition ceremonies.
“Attending Commencement made me love Liberty even more,” Teachenor said. “I had been attending my classes on Microsoft Teams and online, so when I went to campus, it was just awesome. Liberty has such great resources for students and veterans, and the fact that it’s such a great, conservative, Christian college is icing on the cake.”
Four months after graduation, “Semper Supra” was officially adopted as the Space Force anthem.
“I love this nation so much. America is the greatest country in the world,” he said about being able to write the anthem. “ I am a songwriter and a veteran; and to have the opportunity to contribute musically to our military and nation in such a way, there are no words to explain how I feel about that.
“I am honored that it’s not my song anymore, it’s theirs. Every time it plays, I hope they remember their service and why they served, and I hope the nation remembers the sacrifices service members in the USSF and all branches put forth every single day for the freedoms we hold dear. Ultimately, I know how I feel every time I sing or hear the Air Force song, and I hope that is the same feeling our guardians feel when they sing or hear their service song.”
On Nov. 11, Teachenor reunited with members of Wild Blue Country for a Special Veteran’s Day celebration at the Grand Ole Opry to debut “Semper Supra” on the Opry stage as part of the updated Armed Forces Medley.
Teachenor currently works as adjunct professor of songwriting at Middle Tennessee State University, he serves his community as County Commissioner, and he writes, produces scholarly research, is working on a book, and performs and speaks publicly—even giving his first TED Talk at a TEDx event earlier this year. As he balances these responsibilities as well as those of being a husband and a father, he is reminded of a lesson he learned from his time at Liberty.
“While at Liberty, I learned we can be involved in multiple areas throughout our lives and have an impact in multiple fields,” he said.
Citing Ephesians 3:20 and Genesis 12:1 as two of his life verses, Teachenor said the best parts of his journey are a testament to the power of God and emphasize the importance of believers surrendering to the Lord’s will for their lives.
“So many times, we try to package our lives in a very specific way based on how we think everything is going to turn out,” he said. “Of course, we can have dreams and aspirations, but if we allow the Lord to lead and guide us, He can do more than we could ever dream up or imagine ourselves. He only requires we place our ‘yes’ on the table so to speak and say, ‘Lord, I’ll do whatever You want, and I know Your ways are better than mine.’ That’s something I continue to learn throughout my life — I must rely on Jesus, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without Him.”