By Jan Bartel / Contributing Writer
The lights go down, the curtain goes up and Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Jennifer Reilly takes the stage. It’s another day in “class” for her, who is studying songwriting, recording and performing at the Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard.
“It is an incredibly novel experience to focus on improving my launching pad into the music industry with such intensity and concentration while in school,” said Reilly.
Reilly is among a group of college musicians and aspiring music industry professionals invited to spend a semester studying and working at the CMC’s recording facility.
“I have felt challenged by the diverse lives of people at a Christian program,” Reilly said. “Mostly I have been inspired by the opportunity to take advantage of all the great resources available with the musicians, experience of the staff and recording equipment.”
Shortly after arriving on the island, Reilly was signed to an exclusive management agreement with Offshore Entertainment Group, a student-run career development and marketing firm.
When she’s not in class, she splits her time between the rehearsal rooms, working up original songs with her bands and the main studio. Her songs will be featured on a compilation CD released this spring on 450 Records.
CMC director Warren Pettit said that they chose Martha’s Vineyard as the location for the program because “it has a long history as an artists’ community and affords students the opportunity to get away from the distractions of big-city life.”
“Students spend an intensive four months identifying and developing their creative gifts while gaining key insights into the inner workings of the music industry,” Petitt added.
“In the sixteen semesters that we’ve been open, the CMC has helped nearly 500 students from more than 80 colleges prepare for careers in contemporary music,” said Tom Willett, CMC assistant director. “We’ve already had alums sign with major record labels, and there are more than 100 who have begun their careers in the music business in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles.”
The CMC is one of eleven semester-away study programs created by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities and BestSemester.com.
Students can also go to China, Russia, Egypt, Latin America, Oxford, England, Washington D.C., Uganda, Australia and Hollywood to explore the interaction of faith and learning in various disciplines.