There have been many musicians from Kentucky who have gone on to leave an indelible mark in the world of music by spreading the state’s musical roots in bluegrass and other forms of traditional music across the globe.
Cody Pearman, Tyler Mullins and Thomas Albert are three talented musicians who have similar aspirations. However, when they go on to pursue their musical careers, they will do so with something only the three of them currently possess: A Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Music from Morehead State University.
This unique degree marks yet another milestone in the growth and evolution of the traditional music program in MSU’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. The department originally offered a minor in traditional music before establishing the Bachelor of Arts in Traditional Music program in 2012, which coincided with the construction and opening of the new Kentucky Center for Traditional Music facility.
Kentucky natives Pearman (from Vine Grove) Mullins (from Richwood) and Albert (from Morehead) were all minoring in traditional music but originally had different majors. When the University announced the establishment of a four-year degree in traditional music, they all jumped at the opportunity.
“Right when I heard about it, it was kind of a sudden decision,” said Albert, who originally majored in communications. “I thought, wow, that really sounds like something I’d like to do.”
Throughout their time in the program, all three students became proficient in guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass, learned about many aspects of the recording process and received expert guidance in performing on stage, which they have been able to utilize in numerous shows both on campus and on the road.
“A lot of it has definitely been how to think as a musician, keeping the right frame of mind and how to connect with your audience,” Mullins said. “To go to school for a program like this, you don’t have to stumble upon that knowledge. They prepare you for that.”
Pearman, Mullins and Albert all plan to play professionally and/or go into private instruction after graduation. Raymond McLain, director of the KCTM, has seen all three graduates progress both in the classroom and on stage and is confident their talents and what they’ve learned at MSU will help them succeed.
“I think they embody the life, the spirit and the excitement of this new program,” McLain said. “I think they are remarkable young people. We’ve toured together and performed together. My feeling is they are more than just good entertainers. They really have something more to offer.”