Grammy-winning MTSU alum's advice to students: Graduate

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President Sidney A. McPhee, right, congratulates MTSU alumnus and Grammy winner Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond. At left is Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

LOS ANGELES -- Middle Tennessee State University alumnus Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond, honored Saturday by his alma mater as part of its events before the Grammy Awards, had three pieces of advice to current students.

The multiple Grammy and Dove award winner told them to graduate, network and take advantage of all the opportunities that the College of Media and Entertainment has to offer.

"What it did was help me understand the business side," Esmond, Class of 2003, said of his music business degree. "And it saved me a lot of money."

Esmond, a songwriter/producer, was nominated at this year's Grammys for producing "Hussle & Motivate" on Nipsey Hussle's best rap album-nominated "Victory Lap" CD.

President Sidney A. McPhee, Provost Mark Byrnes and Dean Ken Paulson recognized Esmond at an event for industry officials, alumni and artists at The Standard hotel in downtown Los Angeles, California.

Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, interviewed Esmond in front of the event's audience. Video excerpts from the event can be found here:

Esmond, who recently established a scholarship for MTSU students, has maintained close ties with his alma mater. That networking, he said, has helped him make and keep connections that continue to help his career.

"You never know which of your fellow classmates will run what label," he said. "Nobody would have ever thought I would be a Grammy winner."

And he urged students to "take advantage of the school" and what it has to offer, including "world-class studios and world-class programs."

Then, later Saturday night, MTSU co-sponsored The Americana Music Association's pre-Grammy Salute to John Prine, a career-spanning tribute concert set for the legendary Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, Calif.

And, on Sunday, MTSU teamed with Leadership Music for a reception for Nashville-area recording industry executives and artists before the national telecast of the 61st annual Grammy Awards ceremony.

Eight university-connected people, including Esmond, contributed to Grammy-nominated projects this year in rap, Americana, country and gospel projects.

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