Story and Photo by Sydney M. Cohn
On November 18, 2019, students gathered at the Chris Young Cafe located on Middle Tennessee State University’s campus to watch a performance by country singer, Teddy Robb. The event came to fruition thanks to an educational chapter of the Country Music Association, CMA EDU. The Country Music Association has dedicated its time and resources to inspire and promote future leaders of the music industry.
Kate Kaltenbach, CMA EDU coordinator, explained “As a collegiate program dedicated to developing young people into the bright young leaders they are, CMA EDU continues to deliver the necessary resources and connections needed for professional growth.”
CMA EDU partnered with Monument Records in 2018 when they decided to give students a behind the scenes look into the process of a show. Monument believed that up and coming country artist Teddy Robb would be the right fit.
Kaltenbach confessed, “Teddy is a natural fit for our collegiate program. He understands our core values, the importance of building your network, and the true meaning of hustle. Those are all the same qualities we look for in our student leaders.”
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Robb realized that he wanted to turn his passion for music into a career when he performed his first paid show. “When I moved to Nashville in 2013, I had been earning a living performing music for about two years. That’s when I realized that there was nothing else I wanted to go after. I was 24 and I didn’t have a plan B,” Robb admitted.
It was during a ski trip to Vail, Colorado, in 2014 that the doors to the music industry would open for Robb. While singing at Pepi’s Bar and Restaurant, Sheika Gramshammer approached him and offered him a position as the house musician. Robb accepted the owner’s offer and would reside in Vail for the next year. Then, one night something incredible happened.
While reminiscing, Robb passionately told his story, “It was a fateful evening. I was sitting in Pepi’s when I offered up my table to a group of people. After doing so, they invited me to join them and we started talking. They asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I explained to them that I wanted to move back to Nashville and pursue a record deal. Well, it just so happens that one of the men in that group was the chief marketing officer of the Grammy Awards, Evan Greene.”
Robb packed his bags and headed back to Nashville where he signed a developmental deal with Monument in November 2017 before being offered a full record deal the following year. He released his first debut single, “Lead Me On,” on August 24th, 2018. The single was produced by Shane McAnally, Matt McGinn, and Ben Fowler. Robb was excited to work with the talented group. McAnally has written and produced songs for artists such as Thomas Rhett, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney.
Robb exclaimed, “I was really excited but also very nervous. I had been doing music for so long and then all of a sudden I was releasing music. I never imagined that it would open the doors that it did.”
The laid back and honest ambiance permeated throughout the Chris Young cafe as MTSU students listened to Robb’s stories. While performing songs such as “Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You,” “Tell Me How,” and “Me On You,” Robb took the time to answer questions asked by the students. He also explained that he is currently on a radio tour promoting his latest single, “Really Shouldn’t Drink Around You,” featuring Meghan Patrick, that was re-released on November 15th, 2019. As the show drew to a close, Robb shared a piece of advice that put dreams into perspective.
Humbly, he explained, “I think in this industry, you have to be talented, work really hard, and also have a little bit of luck. I try to remember that because it helps me to be appreciative of the position I am in.”
It is important to emphasize the driving force behind passion. We go through life searching for meaning and commonality. When we identify what ignites our souls, we realize that such a desire is what builds community and collaboration. Within the music industry, it is important to remember that the profession is the voice that creates connections. As for Teddy Robb, he left Middle Tennessee State University with newfound fans and anticipative eyes watching to see what the future holds for him.