By Natalie Shipley // Staff Writer
Considered “MTSU’s most famous alumnus,” it has been more than 10 years since award-winning songwriter and producer Luke Laird attended the university.
“I don’t know how accurate that is, but, hey, if that’s what it is for now, I feel honored,” Laird said during a break in a performance at last week’s Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival in Nashville. He will return to his alma mater on Wednesday April 2 for a 6:30 p.m. singing and speaking engagement in room 101 of the College of Mass Communication.
At 35, Laird’s career is full of impressive accomplishments. He received a Grammy this year for producing Grammy-award-winning artist Kacey Musgraves’ album, “Same Trailer Different Park.” In 2012, Laird was BMI’s Country Songwriter of the year. So far, Laird has co-written 14 Billboard No.1 singles with artists ranging from Carrie Underwood to John Legend.
Growing up in Hartstown, Pa., Laird was just a high school freshman when he became interested in MTSU. The next three summers of Laird’s high school career would be spent traveling more than 600 miles back and forth to Murfreesboro.
Post graduation, Laird lucked out with job opportunities.
“My goal was to get a publishing deal; I wanted to be a fulltime songwriter,” he said. “I didn’t have any publishing deal offers when I graduated, so I actually got a job working on the road for Brooks & Dunn. I would be out on the road on the weekends, but when I got back to Nashville, I would play open mic writer nights. About a year after I graduated, I got my first publishing deal.”
Laird’s father, Jim, knows MTSU was the right choice for his son.
The elder Laird said MTSU gave his son the confidence “to spring board into what he’s been doing the last 14 years or so. MTSU was a good fit for him.”
The Grammy-winning songwriter offered advice for those wanting to pursue a career in songwriting.
“First of all, be willing to take constructive criticism,” he said. “As cliché as it sounds, work really hard. I really feel like if you have the talent to be a professional songwriter, especially in Nashville, you will get discovered. Word of mouth in Nashville is still the number one way that I know of anyone getting a publishing deal. Be honest with yourself if you feel like something is really good and take the advice of people who have been there and done it themselves.”