Nashville singer-songwriter Mike Farris performed to a group of more than 30 recording industry students on campus Tuesday evening.
Farris was the recipient of the 2008 Americana Music Association New & Emerging Artist Award following the release of his 2007 album Salvation in Lights, a release that established him as both a gospel and soul singer.
“I hit the Americana scene at the right time, right when it was a really stagnant genre,” he said. “The genre basically had a padlock on the door that included just singer-songwriters, but it soon changed to where it was more inclusive of all American roots music.”
In between songs, he and his manager Tyler Pittman shared wisdom on the music industry, including personal struggles as a musician and his 2007 performance for the Porter Wagoner tribute at the Tennessee State Museum, an event Farris says reestablished his music career.
“It’s amazing how one single performance can blow the door open,” Farris said. “It’s something we never know when it’s going to happen, but after that [performance] everything got crazy.”
Before his success as a solo artist, Farris fronted Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, an early ’90s group that toured with Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews Band and more.
Before leaving, Farris opened the floor up to a Q&A session and delivered a strong piece of advice to prospective students.
“The moral of the story is to do what you love and what makes you happy,” he said. “If you ain’t got joy in your work, that’s a sure sign you’re not doing what you were put here to do.”
Farris will be performing at Ryman Auditorium on Jan. 11 with Craig Morgan and Deana Carter.