GIMC Capstone Conference

Apr 17

Join GIMC at Vanderbilt for the Capstone Conference...                                  
Religion, music, and regional identity are all mixed together in Nashville, resulting in a unique set of relationships, networks, communities, ideas, and products. Although all of these could never be considered in one conference, the God in Music City Capstone conference will provide a rich enough sampling to spark conversations that will help musicians, clergy, and scholars discover new ways to connect and support one another. Please come, network with musicians, interested clergy, students, and scholars, and join your voice in this vital conversation!  


Conference Schedule and Information - Video Linked

8:30 - 8:45 - Registration / Continental Breakfast

8:45 - Welcome

9:00-10:00    Keynote Speaker: 
Dale Cockrell: This is My Story, This is My Song

This talk explores the role and function of music in a 150-year old small, rural Southern Baptist church in We   stern Kentucky (which happens to be the home church of the presenter).  Much remains the same, but much more has changed over the last half century.  What does this modest case study say about music and religion in the South-past and present-and what does it suggest about a future in which, one hopes, people continue to sing boldly, with full body, of "Blessed Assurance."

10:00 - 10:15    Break

10:15 - 11:30    
John McClure and Allison Pingree: Using Music to Explore and Expand Religious Identity in Teaching and Preaching
Music and identity are closely related in today's culture, and this is true in congregations. "Contemporary" and "Traditional" do not begin to define the richness of the forms of music that give expression to the religious identity of church goers. Using a Sunday School course on "Music and Religious Identity" and a resulting worship experience at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville as case studies, this workshop shows how music can be used to help a congregation or other religious organization explore the breadth and depth of its religious identity through music.

11:30 - 12:45    Lunch and Greg Barz:  Who are The People who Make God Music in Music City?

The 2-CD compilation, God in Music City: The Sounds of Religion in Nashville, was conceptualized as a supporting tool for an academic class and a semester-long series of events at Vanderbilt. Since the album's release in January 2008 a stream of public discussions (newspaper reviews, TV shows, discussions, concerts) with both artists associated with the project and members of the local community have frequently focused on what was included and what was not included on the album, leading many to ask, "just who are the people who make God Music in Nashville?"

1:00 - 2:15   Poster Session I:  Student projects from the God in Music City undergraduate course
Join us as students from “Music and Religion: God in Music City” share the results of the ethnographic research they conducted this semester; their interviews with Nashville clergy, artists, religious educators, faculty, fellow students, and others reveal how music and religion shape each other in profound and often surprising ways. 

2:15 - 2:30   Break

2:30 - 3:45  
Michael Rose:  Provisional Conversion to Religious “Truth” Through Music
What is the difference between grasping the compositional form and content of a piece of sacred music  as being aesthetically true and grasping its religious message as being absolutely true?  Can one truth be achieved without the other?  Must conversion to religious truths always be permanent, or might it also work in a provisional way, pointing towards a different understanding of truth?  What are the ethical consequences of our various answers to these questions?  Professor Michael Rose will dive into these issues in the presence of vivid musical examples and (he hopes) lively discussion.

3:45 - 4:00   Break

4:00 - 5:15   Panel Discussion, moderated by
Robin Jensen:
                          Vanderbilt and the Popular Music Community in Nashville

Vanderbilt graduates and current students who work in and around the Nashville music industry join in a Q & A session in which they will be asked to reflect on whether/how their education at Vanderbilt has influenced their vocation, community of conversation and service, perspective, music, etc. They will also be asked to reflect on how education at Vanderbilt could be changed to better support or influence Nashville musicians, songwriters, journalists, etc.    

Bill Friskics-Warren, A 1985 graduate of the Divinity School, Bill Friskics-Warren is currently on the staff at The Tennessean, where he writes about music and pop culture. He also is the author of two books: Heartaches by the Number (Vanderbilt University Press) and I'll Take You There: Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence (Continuum). The Onion's A.V Club named the former one of 17 essential books about pop music while Sojourners magazine called the latter "a definitive popular culture study for the new millennium." As a freelance writer, Bill's work appears in publications ranging from the New York Times and the Washington Post to Rock & Rap Confidential and the Oxford American.  

Marcus Hummon, a graduate of the Divinity School, has been one of Nashville's most consistently successful and innovative songwriters. He has penned, or co-penned, number one hits for Sara Evans ("Born to Fly"), the Dixie Chicks ("Ready to Run" and "Cowboy, Take Me Away"), Tim McGraw ("One of These Days"), Wynonna ("Only Love"), along with many others, garnering Grammy, CMA, and Tony nominations. Most recently, Hummon won the Grammy Award for Rascal Flatts "Bless the Broken Road." Along the way, he has also recorded and released several albums of his own, including the the critically acclaimed All in Good Time, on Columbia Records. Marcus's diverse career has also included a published book of poetry, entitled "Gospel Haiku," and the lyrics for the PBS children's cartoon series, "Book of Virtues," and several successful theatre productions  

Sherry Cothran Woolsey fronted the rock band, The Evinrudes, whose song "Drive Me Home" earned regional hit status and landed the band a major label deal on Mercury Records. Following the band's London release on Flying Sparks Records in 2002, Sherry released a solo album titled, "Who Let the World In." She also appeared in and wrote songs for an independent movie called "Novem" in the summer of 2003. Last year, one of Sherry's songs from her solo album was featured on an episode of the ABC hit TV show, "Men In Trees." Sherry was born and raised in a small town in West Tennessee where she learned how to sing gospel music with an all girl quartet accompanied by her brother on piano.  She is now pursuing what she feels is a dual calling, a Masters of Divinity at Vanderbilt University. She is also in the ordination process in the United Methodist Church.  

Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton, Pastor for Spiritual Formation and Worship Arts At South End UMC, is also the Lead Editor of African American Resources at the United Methodist Publishing House. She has a Bachelor of Music History from Howard University, a Master of Violin from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. Rev. Thornton has taught at Howard, Trevecca Nazarene and at Tennessee State Universities, and served on the Board of Education in Ossining, NY from 1988-1992. She has developed cultural and Christian Education programs for twenty years. Rev. Thornton is the music editor for the two editions (pew, accompaniment) of  the songbook Zion Still Sings: For Every Generation (Abingdon Press 2007) and a contributing writer for the Africana Worship Book series (Discipleship Resources, 2006, 2007, 2008). She continues to perform as a singer, violinist, and storyteller.

Sam Lorber grew up in New Jersey and after attending the University of Richmond came to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career.  Since 1978, artists who have recorded his songs run the gamut from Eddy Arnold to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; Restless Heart and Ty Herndon to Patty Smyth and Patti La Belle. He had his first top forty pop and number one a/c record with "Where Were You When I Was Falling In Love" by Lobo, followed by "Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters, which was recently remixed into a worldwide dance hit.  He has been published by Warner Brothers Music, Sony Music, and is currently represented by Bug/Windswept Music.  His song, "No One Else On Earth,"recorded by Wynonna Judd, was one of the top 50 ASCAP performers of the 1990s. Sam is a former director of the National Academy of Songwriters, the Southern Advisory Board of ASCAP, a 1996 graduate of Leadership Music, and a trustee of Temple Ohabai Shalom.  He completed his undergraduate degree in history at Tennessee State University in 2007 and will be attending Vanderbilt’s graduate program in Jewish Studies in the fall of 2008.  

7:00      Meet and Greet the Artists - Second Presbyterian Church Cafe

7:30- 9:30  
Tom Kimmel & Friends: Music, Religion, and the South: Where do Songs Come From?  
                    Location: Second Presbyterian Church  
                    Including Odessa Settles, Marshall Chapman, Lisa Silver, Danny Flowers,
                             Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kirby Shelstad

Reflection, Scholarship, Discussion, Interaction

Nashville musicians, scholars, and religious leaders should not remain in separate worlds.  The Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, through its Music, Religion, and the South project wants to find ways to bring these individuals and communities into conversation with one another. This conference is designed to put these three groups of people together to reflect on a variety of topics of mutual interest. Event leaders and participants will present workshops designed to get us all into conversation about things that matter to each of us. The first day of the conference will explore some of the people who make the music in Nashville. The second day will explore the power of Nashville's music in the construction of personal, religious, regional, and musical identity.

Facilitated by Dr. John McClure and Dr. Allison Pingree


Professor McClure's teaching is in the area of homiletics. His special interests are in the relationships between philosophy, theology, ethics and preaching. His publications include The Four Codes of Preaching: Rhetorical Strategies (Fortress, 1991), The Roundtable Pulpit: Where Preaching and Leadership Meet (Abingdon, 1995), Telling the Truth: Preaching About Sexual and Domestic Violence (co-edited with Nancy Ramsay, United Church Press, 1998), and Other-wise Preaching: A Postmodern Ethic for Homiletics (Chalice, 2001).

Allison Pingree is co-director of the Music, Religion and the South project (the sponsor of God in Music City), and has affiliated faculty appointments at Vanderbilt in the Blair School of Music, Medical Education, and American Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies.  She received her Ph.D. in English from Harvard (specializing in late 19th and early 20th century American literature and culture), and taught there in the departments of English, History and Literature, and Expository Writing, and in the department of English at Brandeis University. Since 1998 she has directed the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching []

Her research interests include spirituality in higher education; gender and pedagogy; interdisciplinary teaching, learning and collaboration; and leadership and organizational change.  Her passion as an educator lies in exploring ways to integrate body, heart, mind and spirit to promote deep learning. She has sung with the Vanderbilt Community Chorus [] at the Blair School of Music since 2002.