NASHVILLE (April 27, 2021) – Lipscomb University announced an innovative partnership that will provide students seeking careers in entertainment and music a unique immersive learning experience at its IMAGINE 2021 “The Soul of America Today” event featuring former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham tonight.
Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry announced the launch of a significant new, innovative immersive-learning initiative for students with a partnership between Lipscomb’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts and Nashville’s Bart Millard, lead singer of the band MercyMe, called Imagine House. Millard is the frontman and principal songwriter for MercyMe. He wrote the band’s landmark song “I Can Only Imagine,” which was the first digital single in Christian music history to be certified 4x platinum, after the loss of his father to cancer. MercyMe has received numerous GRAMMY®nominations, American Music Awards, a Billboard Music Award, and numerous GMA Dove Awards and KLOVE Fan Awards.
Imagine House is the only initiative of its kind in the country that offers students with varying artistic interests, an innovative education, real market entertainment experiences and a nation wide mentoring network. It will officially launch this fall.
“Imagine House will be a place that intentionally brings filmmakers, musicians, designers and animators into creative collaborations that sharpen their ability to tell compelling stories while also inspiring them to connect their art more deeply with their faith,” said Mike Fernandez, dean of Lipscomb’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts. “Imagine House is the place where you can dream about your future, ignite the wonder of your faith, apprentice under successful pioneers that have blazed a trail ahead of you and collaborate with other multifaceted artists to create what’s next.”
Millard approached Lipscomb with his vision for Imagine House. After considering several other universities with whom to partner, he selected Lipscomb to help him bring his idea to life because of Lipscomb’s established College of Entertainment & the Arts, the caliber of CEA faculty and the institution’s location in Nashville and satellite campus in Austin, Texas.
“I love the creative energy and innovation coming out of Lipscomb University and its College of Entertainment & the Arts,” said Millard. “While music is my first love, I am excited about training the next generation to impact the world with tremendous storytelling across many artistic mediums.”
Fernandez said plans for Imagine House include:
? ImagineEdu. A pathway for offering online degrees, which is convenient for those already working in the industry; undergraduate and graduate certificates; a two-year fast-track to the industry; additional graduate programs and on-demand video training among other programs.
? Imagine House Studios. This will be a functioning content production studio that will build and promote a legacy house band, called Longview, that will tour the country representing the university on the national stage, and also create content for the marketplace including a new animated series called the Dead Sea Squirrels and a sports documentary series called Set Apart: The Music City Mustangs.
? Imagine Nation Network. Imagine House will serve as a network of industry experts and educators who will provide fellowship, mentorship and internships to students from high school to college ages.
In addition to Millard and Fernandez, the Imagine House leadership team also includes:
? Brown Bannister, music industry veteran and GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, director of Lipscomb’s School of Music. Bannister will focus on building the house band and will lead the Imagine Nation Network.
The announcement was made during IMAGINE 2021 on Tuesday, April 27, when Lipscomb University offered an evening of renewed hope, revitalized confidence and energized belief in the enduring principles that move our nation forward through an examination of “The Soul of America Today,” based on Meacham’s best-selling book The Soul of America. IMAGINE is designed to engage the Nashville community in conversations of significance by bringing renowned leaders to the city to participate in dialogue about topics of local and national importance.
In addition to the Imagine House announcement, the event featured a conversation about “The Soul of America Today” with Meacham, who released his latest book, His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, in August, and Haslam, whose book Faithful Presence: The Promise and the Peril of Faith in the Public Square, releases in May. Entertainment included MercyMe performing its hit song, “I Can Only Imagine” and Odessa Settles, Americana/folk singer and multi-genre artist in the areas of vocal and instrumental music, acting, modeling, spoken word, recording projects, and short films.
It continues to be a landmark time for the multi-platinum selling, GRAMMY® nominated, multiple American Music Award, Billboard Music Award and Dove Award winners MercyMe. They were recently named Billboard’s Top Christian Artist of the 2010 decade, and in 2020 received their eighth American Music Award nomination. A major motion picture based on the life of frontman Bart Millard who wrote the mega-hit song “I Can Only Imagine” after the loss of his father, opened at a remarkable No. 3 at the box office on Mar. 16, 2018 (Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions). In conjunction with the movie release, Millard penned a memoir and the band released a collection of hits titled I Can Only Imagine – The Very Best Of MercyMe. In 2018 MercyMe was named Top Christian Artist at the Billboard Music Awards, was the top winner at the fan-fueled K-LOVE Fan Awards including a win for Artist of the Year, and was the GMA Dove Award Winner for Artist Of The Year. Since their debut in 2001, the band has sold more than 9 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered more than 48 No. 1 multi-format radio singles, and had four consecutive mainstream radio hits. MercyMe made history in 2014 as “I Can Only Imagine” surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain. The song has now gone has gone 4x platinum. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s “Word Of God Speak” the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents. They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and have appeared on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, FOX New Channel’s FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.
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