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Daily Corinthian Article .pdf


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6B • Tuesday, October 23, 2012 • Daily Corinthian

Northeast’s Campus Country has new director
BY BRANT SAPPINGTON
bsappington@dailycorinthian.
com

Music is all about timing — the rhythm of the
drummer keeping the
beat as the guitarist wails
and the singers tell a story
with their carefully chosen words.
For new Campus Country director Chris Dunn,
the journey to the helm
of Northeast Mississippi
Community College’s signature country music ensemble was also all about
timing — with the opportunity to lead one of the
most unique community
college music groups in
the country striking the
right note at exactly the
right time in his own musical story.
Dunn, an experienced
professional
musician
who spent several years
on the road performing
with a variety of acts, took
over the program this
summer after longtime
director Jerry Rains retired.
“It’s really kind of
amazing,” he said of the
timing of the opportunity.
The new director was
completing his master’s
degree in music at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro,
Tenn., and was preparing to graduate early last
summer when his advisor received an e-mail
from Rains, saying they
were looking for someone
to lead a unique country music ensemble. The
qualiÞcations for the position Þt Dunn perfectly,
and he was quickly put in
contact with Rains, who
described the group and
what they were all about.
He played recordings
of the ensemble from the
previous year and Dunn
was blown away by what
he heard.
“I was really impressed.
I was blown away at the
level of talent I was hearing,” he said.

Photo by Michael H. Miller/NEMCC

Campus Country director Chris Dunn introduces the
group during the first performance of the year.
He had his Þrst interview at the school in June
and then a second in July
and was ofÞcially hired
on July 5 with the Þrst rehearsals of the school year
only weeks away.
Dunn grew up in Albertville, Ala., a small town
nestled in the northwest
corner of the state. Music
was the centerpiece of his
life from a very early age
and by middle school he
was performing on drums
with the marching band.
As he developed his musical talents, he switched
to bass and guitar, playing electric bass in the
high school jazz band,
show choir band and even
the marching band. After
graduation, he went to
Nashville where he majored in music at Belmont
University and performed
professionally with a variety of bands in the lively
Nashville music scene.
He also played in bands
for musical theater productions.
After graduation, he
went out on the road as a
musician touring with numerous different acts, but
life on the road quickly
grew old.
“I decided this was not
the life for me,” he said.
He enrolled at MTSU in

2008 to work on his master’s degree with the goal
of teaching music at the
college level.
Dunn said the Campus Country position is a
dream come true. While
there are similar ensembles to be found at some
universities, he knows
of no commercial music
ensemble like Campus
Country to be found at
any other community college.
“It’s really unique,” he
said.
Commercial
music
programs are focused on
popular music such as
country, rock and pop as
opposed to classical music programs. Northeast
offers majors in both disciplines as well as music
education and the musicians in Campus Country
come from all of those
majors. Many of the vocalists are not actually
music majors, but are talented performers from
other areas.
Members of the group
are chosen through an
audition process each
spring, so Dunn came
into a group already
chosen by his predecessor and ready to go with
deadlines looming.
The Þrst Campus Coun-

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Staff photo by Brant Sappington

Chris Dunn, director of Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Campus
Country group, transcribes a new song into a chart for the musicians to play by in
preparation for an upcoming performance.
try Showtime of the season was only a week into
the school year and that
meant getting the group
up to speed, and working well together quickly.
He said he was blessed
that the core of the band
was made up of talented
second year students who
were already ready to perform.
He said he’s been impressed by the talent of
this year’s group and how
they’ve all come together
so quickly.
Dunn said one of the
things that makes Campus Country unique compared to other similar
ensembles at the university level is other groups
may only perform once or
twice a semester and only
on campus and they only
practice two or three days
a week.
Campus Country is a
Þve-day-a-week commitment for the participants
with daily rehearsals that
are required to prepare
for a busy performance
schedule that typically
includes 8-12 shows per
year, including the on
campus Showtime per-

Photo by Michael H. Miller/NEMCC

Members of Campus Country perform at Seth
Pounds Auditorium on the Northeast campus during
the first Showtime of 2012.
formances along with
shows at area fairs and
schools. They even have
the opportunity to open
for big name acts, such as
their recent performance
opening for the Kentucky
Headhunters at the Booneville Fall Festival.
Dunn said he’s really
enjoying living in Booneville, and he’s grateful
for the kindness and support shown to him by the
entire community.
The reactions he’s gotten from people throughout the area when he’s
introduced himself as
the new director of the

program have shown
him how deeply beloved
the program is, he said.
He praised Rains for his
kindness and support in
the transition and said
his goal is to continue to
make the program something in which the school
and community can be
proud.
(Campus
Country’s
next public performance
will be Showtime at Seth
Pounds Auditorium on
the NEMCC campus on
Nov. 10. Doors open at
6:30 p.m. with the show
beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.)

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