TSU choir members part of spirited performance at 51st CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Members of Tennessee State University’s Choir  joined a Nashville ensemble in a spirited performance at the recent 51st Country Music Association Awards in Nashville.

Members of the Tennessee State University Choir served as backup singers at the Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night. (Submitted photo)

The choral students appeared as backup singers to some of the biggest names in country music, including Darius Rucker, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire. The students were invited along with the Portara Ensemble, to kick off the CMA Awards, which was broadcast live on national television from the Music City Center.

“It was an amazing experience with about 20,000 people in the audience cheering us on,” said Dre Pinson, a senior general music education major from Nashville, who is president of the TSU Choir. “Talk about adrenaline rushing out, talk about the pressure. They were very polite and very welcoming, especially when they realized that we were from TSU. They were very honored to have some local people behind them to support them.”

Thomas J.  Taylor III, another member of the choir, said he was glad to have the opportunity to once again showcase TSU’s excellence.

“Thanks to our director, Dr. (Susan Kelly) for putting us out there,” said Taylor, a junior music education major from Nashville. “I was excited that we were going to be in front of all those people on live TV.”

Dr. Kelly described the invitation from the CMA and the experience as “very humbling.”

“We got to not only sing with, but to interact with, some of the greatest Country Music artists alive today,” she said. “Our students are doing great things and I am proud to say that I teach at TSU!”

For more information on the Tennessee State University Choir, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/music/choir.aspx


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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.