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Liberty News

Music students learn from top industry professionals

October 29, 2015 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University music students learn from industry professionals during GMA Week.

Justin Fratt, director of operations for the Gospel Music Association, and songwriter Michael Farren, lead a class of Liberty University School of Music students.

Songwriter Michael Farren and GMA director of operations Justin Fratt teach at Liberty University.
Songwriter Michael Farren (left) and GMA Director of Operations Justin Fratt were among the guests who shared their talents and experience with Liberty University School of Music students this week.

Liberty University’s School of Music partnered with the Gospel Music Association (GMA) this week to provide students the opportunity to meet and learn from professionals in the music industry. Artists, as well as recording industry producers and managers, taught classes, held workshops, directed choirs, and performed for students — all in the spirit of helping develop future industry professionals from the nation’s seventh largest School of Music.

“The School of Music is delighted to partner with such a prestigious organization as the Gospel Music Association,” said Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of the School of Music, noting that going forward GMA Student Week will be held during the last week of October annually. “The GMA has long been known for its commitment to training artists, songwriters, and worship leaders. We are delighted to join hands with the gospel music industry in seeing our students equipped for lifetime careers as music industry professionals.”

Among the guests was Gospel Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Richard Smallwood, who holds a Grammy Award for his production of the Quincy Jones gospel project “Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration.” Smallwood worked with student choirs, including LU Praise, and led 200 students in a performance Monday night in the Towns-Alumni Lecture Hall.

Songwriter/worship leader Michael Farren, former lead singer of Pocket Full of Rocks, also participated in the choir concert, in addition to leading classes throughout the week. Farren also performed in Wednesday’s Convocation.

“It was a beautiful sight to see world-class artists such as Richard Smallwood and Michael Farren pouring themselves into the lives of our students,” Whaley said.

Other guests included Justin Fratt, director of operations for the GMA, and Mike Harland, a nationally recognized author and songwriter who serves as director of Lifeway Worship.

  • This summer, two Liberty University graduates won top awards in an aspiring artist’s competition at a GMA conference. Read more about the GMA event, as well as the School of Music’s new facility, in the Liberty Journal.

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