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$58 million music college gift from Mike Curb on 50th anniversary of school’s founding
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$58 million music college gift from Mike Curb on 50th anniversary of school’s founding

In its 50th year, Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business has announced a significant evolution of its literal and inspirational music industry footprint.

During a “Belmont at the Opry” Grand Ole Opry show featuring Belmont-graduated talent including Trisha Yearwood, Tyler Hubbard, Hailey Whitters, and others, the institution announced a $58 million gift from philanthropist and Nashville music executive Mike Curb to expand the institution’s presence on music row.

The Buddy Lee Attractions Building,which originally housed Capitol Records, was bought by the Mike Curb Foundation. The building is at 38 Music Square East next to the building used by Belmont University songwriting students.

The gift is the largest in University history. It will support the renovation of existing buildings and the construction of a new state-of-the-art Music Row facility.

“Mike Curb’s remarkable generosity and partnership with Belmont over many years has been invaluable in advancing entertainment and music business education,” said University President Dr. Greg Jones. “This latest transformational gift solidifies Belmont’s position at the forefront of developing the next generation of music industry leaders. We are profoundly grateful to Mike and Linda for their continued investment in Belmont’s mission.”

Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business Brittany Schaffer adds the following:

“For 50 years, our faculty, staff and world-class facilities have made Belmont a top destination for future music executives, engineers, artists and songwriters. Mike’s partnership over decades has allowed Belmont to continually elevate our entertainment curriculum and facilities in lockstep with industry needs. This lead gift allows us to deepen our integration with Music Row, creating an unprecedented immersive experience that will directly connect our students with industry leaders and opportunities while driving innovation alongside our partners in Nashville’s entertainment landscape.”

The two-phase project includes renovating the 17,000-square-foot former home of Capitol Records and Buddy Lee Attractions’ (until 2018) at 38 Music Square East. That renovation is planned to add songwriting rooms, listening spaces, live sound classrooms, student lounges for the College of Entertainment and Music Business and new, updated space for Nashville’s Leadership Music offices (continuing an existing partnership between the organizations).

The second phase will involve the construction of a 75,000-square-foot building behind Belmont’s existing MusicRow footprint at 34 Music Square E. In the next two years, Belmont will commence building a facility encompassing a 150-plus person capacity performance venue, networking and gathering spaces for Belmont students and industry professionals, a coffee shop, content capture rooms, and underground parking.

The university has also kicked off phase two’s fundraising campaign.

“As Nashville’s music industry has grown and evolved into an international entertainment hub, it’s crucial that our education system keeps pace to develop skilled talent,” said Mike Curb.

“Belmont has been a fantastic partner over the years in preparing aspiring artists, songwriters, engineers, and music business leaders who go on to become invaluable employees for record companies throughout Nashville and the industry at large. With this latest investment, we’ll build upon that strong foundation to push entertainment and music business education ahead to the next level, ensuring a steady stream of well-prepared professionals for the ever-growing industry.”

Brittany Schaffer, Dean of Curb College at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, April 27, 2023

Fifty years ago, Belmont’s music business program emerged as former university president Dr. Herbert Gabhart, professor and program founder Bob Mulloy, and pioneering Memphis and Nashville industry executives Curb and Cecil Scaife combined forces to create both an industry connector and talent incubator for aspiring undergraduate and graduate-level audio engineers, songwriters and industry creatives.

In his career, Mike Curb has creatively and successfully engaged with the worlds of business, government and philanthropy. He built and sustained Curb Records as one of the premier independent record companies, reshaped the role of lieutenant governor in the state of California and launched a generous, family-based program in philanthropy, targeting historic preservation and education in the arts.

Curb scored his first success in the music industry while still in high school, when Honda selected his song “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)” for a national advertising campaign. His vocal group, The Mike Curb Congregation, achieved worldwide success and collaborated with artists including Sammy Davis Jr. (“The Candy Man”) and Hank Williams Jr. (“All for the Love of Sunshine”).

Curb’s songs have been recorded by artists including The Osmond Brothers, Roy Orbison, Anne Murray, Eddy Arnold, and Solomon Burke. He wrote a signature song for Liza Minnelli (“It Was a Good Time”) and the theme for the American Bandstand television show starring Dick Clark.

Curb has composed and produced music for many films, including “Wild Angels,” “Coyote Ugly,” “Evan Almighty” and “Legally Blonde 2.” In the 1960s, Curb’s record label became an important part of the West Coast rock ‘n’ roll business, releasing early recordings by The Stone Ponies with Linda Ronstadt, The Electric Flag and Eric Burden and War. As president of MGM Records and later Verve Records, Curb helped develop the careers of Donny and Marie Osmond and Tony Bennett and also played a role in preserving recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and other jazz greats.

Curb founded Curb Records in the 1970s, again scoring hits such “You Light up My Life” (Debby Boone), “Let Your Love Flow” (The Bellamy Brothers) and “Kiss You All Over” (Exile).

In 1978, Curb was elected lieutenant governor of California and served as acting governor for about a year, guiding the state during disastrous floods, fires and a threatened prison guard strike. He has long been a prominent Republican fundraiser.

Curb Records has continued to thrive with hits by country artists including LeAnn Rimes, Tim McGraw and Wynonna Judd. In addition to his record business, Curb serves as chair of the Mike Curb Family Foundation, which supports music education and works to restore historic music industry locations.

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