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soundboard.jpgCatawba College is quickly emerging as a top college for talented students of popular music & music business from across the country. And we do mean talented (read about the real-world success of our students).

LISTEN to Our Students


Why the Success?


For performers and songwriters, we fully support your musical vision. We do so by helping you develop your own singular artistic voice and gain the musical depth and breadth that will help sustain your career through the years. For students interested in becoming managers, agents, producers, and the like, we teach you about today's music industry and help you acquire the entrepreneurial and networking skills you need to thrive in it. Our support of popular music also creates a vibrant learning environment. You study alongside musicians actively pursuing the types of music that inspire you too.

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Success Tracker

Catawba's music business students are quickly finding success in the professional world of music, sometimes even before they graduate. Here are some notable examples:

  1. 2007 music business graduate and now Catawba Young Artist in Residence Dennis Reed can be heard on not just one but two albums that received Grammy Awards in 2010: Heather Headley's "Audience of One" and the gospel compilation "Oh Happy Day."
  2. The songs of senior music business student and 2007 second-place John Lennon scholarship recepient Derek Daisey can be heard in homes across the country through placement in segments of NBC's the Today Show, the Food Network, and even the video for a Men's Health magazine's cover shoot/interview featuring actor Paul Walker.
  3. Two Catawba musicians tied each other (!) for second place and another placed third in the 2009 BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship competition. That brings to five the number of Catawba students who have placed either first, second, or third over the past four years in a contest that draws thousands of entries annually. No other college or university in the country can touch these results!

The Catawba Difference

Unlike the vast majority of colleges and universities, Catawba offers a musically inclusive curriculum that fully embraces popular music (from rock and alternative to

NickEric.jpggospel and urban styles). This grows from our fundamental belief in the limitless artistic potential of all musics.

We also help you gain the business know-how you need to succeed in today's and tomorrow's world of music. We even offer scholarships to qualified students.

Here is just some of what sets Catawba apart:

  • Popular music courses: songwriting and demo production, audio recording, music technology, theory of popular music, history of American popular music, and more
  • Vernaculars popular music ensemble: dedicated to recent songs of influence and inspiration (Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, John Mayer, Regina Spektor...), important legacy works that have helped create today's popular music (Beatles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin..) and original pieces by members of the ensemble
  • Popular music and music business students learning side-by side, inspired by the same types of music, working on joint projects, charting their futures together...
  • A Music business curriculum that keeps pace with the 21st century and helps both popular music and music business students acquire the essential business know-how they need to succeed in the competitive world of music
  • Opportunities to perform and record your original creations with classmates that share your passion for popular music
  • Interact with and learn from music industry professionals
  • Professional internships (Def Jam, Aware Records...)
  • State-of-the-art project recording studio with open access
  • Rehearsal space for practicing and jamming to your heart's content

Success Stories

How do we know we're offering a worthwhile education to our students? One clue is found in our student retention rate from first year to graduation; the vast majority of our students stay with us to receive their diploma.

Dennis-Lil-Jon.jpgAnother indicator our curriculum's educational value is the real-world success our students are already achieving–even before they graduate. For example, Catawba music business major Dennis Reed beat out over 1200 other student songwriters last year to win the 9th Annual BMI John Lennon Songwriting scholarship with his song "Out of Control." Above is a photo of Dennis with krunk master Lil John at the 2006 BMI Pop Awards, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, where Dennis picked up his $10,000 scholarship.


denniscover.jpgIf that wasn't enough success, three of Dennis' songs, including "Out of Control," made the semi-finals of the International Songwriting Competition (out of 15,000 entries from around the world!). According to ISC, that's an unheard of feat. You can read more about Dennis in our Alumni Highlights.

Proving that Dennis Reed's win was no fluke, Catawba music business major Derek Daisey brought home second place in the 10th Annual BMI John Lennon contest this year with his song "Where to Begin." (Figure the odds on that one!)


On the fast track to success, Derek has also been receiving exceptionally strong reviews and online sales for his self-released debut CD, "All Behind Me." In addition, he has just signed with a management company headed up by Mark Zenow, who helped turn Hootie and the Blowfish into a household name.

Let's Talk

Interested in becoming a popular music or music business student at Catawba? Then, contact Dr. David Lee Fish at or (704) 637-4280.