Tennessee State University Choir part of uplifting performance with Carrie Underwood at CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Members of the Tennessee State University Choir joined a Nashville ensemble in an uplifting performance with megastar Carrie Underwood at the 52nd Country Music Association Awards Wednesday night.

Submitted photo.

The choir members and Portara Ensemble sang with Underwood on her timely hit song, “Love Wins,” during the show at Bridgestone Arena.

“It is an absolute honor to sing with an artist the caliber of Carrie Underwood on national television and it was really meaningful for us to sing a song with a text that encourages unity, in this time of incredible division and strife,” said Dr. Susan Kelly, TSU’s choral director.

It was the TSU Choir’s second performance at the CMAs. The group performed on the awards show last year, and students said before last night’s performance that they were excited the university was getting another opportunity.

“I’m really excited,” said choir member Destiny Pennington, a freshman from Detroit. “It’s something that I’ve never done before and have always wanted to do.”

Junior DeMicheal Martin agreed.

“It’s exciting, and it’s also an opportunity to showcase our great university,” said Martin, of Memphis.

Kelly said the opportunity to sing at the CMAs again is a testimony to the hard work of the students and the success they’re having.

“The choir program has grown so much over the past three years and I am delighted that they are beginning to get opportunities and recognition in the Nashville community,” she said.

Dr. Robert Elliott, chair of TSU’s Department of Music, shared similar sentiment.

“The CMAs are a hallmark of excellence in Nashville; so is TSU,” he said. “Dr. Kelly and her students once more do all of us at TSU proud.”

The choir’s performance will be TSU’s second encounter with country music stardom this year. In August, the university’s famed Aristocrat of Bands performed with superstar Keith Urban at Bridgestone Arena during his tour stop in Nashville. The band was featured as a part of Urban’s closing hit song, “Wasted Time.”


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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, 24 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.