Find Your Program


trojan watermark.jpg


trojan watermark.jpg

AU News

Introducing Gold Road

Gold Road
Gold Road is a new country band getting noticed.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

The new country band Gold Road combines the talents of students in the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University and features a combination of pop country, classic country and Americana. Gold Road was the brainchild of Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music Director and Professor of Music Dr. Derick Cordoba, along with Worship Leadership Director and Music Professor Joe Wehunt. Gold Road performs original songs written by its members and some older country favorites. 

Gold Road draws from a variety of musical influences, ranging from hard driving vocals a la Shania Twain to the coastal vibe of Jimmy Buffett.

When the public learned that Gold Road was going to do a concert at Mill Town in Pelzer, South Carolina, on Friday February 2, the concert was close to being sold out within a week. In response, two more shows have been added: Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 4 at 3 p.m. Gold Road has performed on the Anderson University campus and various Upstate venues. They also will be performing at Soirée, taking place April 2024 in downtown Anderson.

In addition to performing live, Gold Road has recorded original songs that will be released this year. These tracks were recorded in the SCSA Music Media Studios of Anderson University and mixed by Doug Sarrett, who has mixed recordings for Jars of Clay, Point of Grace, Babbie Mason, Glen Campbell, Kirk Franklin and other notable artists. 

“Recent renovations to the SCSA Music Media Studios have made it possible to record world class audio that is of the quality to be distributed worldwide,” said Wehunt. “Our extremely talented pool of music students makes it possible to virtually create original music of any style and present it to the public from our in-house facilities.” 

Dr. Cordoba said he and Wehunt have been talking about starting a Bluegrass or country band for a couple of years. There was a group of students highly interested in being part of a country band, and Cordoba is excited about the opportunity for students to explore this uniquely American musical genre.

“Like AUthenticity and really all our ensembles, we’re drawing from students in commercial music, worship leadership, music education and performance,” Dr. Cordoba said. He commented that opportunities for commercial music students include modern jazz, big band jazz, and also a vocal ensemble. 

“We have a good problem in that we have so many incredible singers in the programs,” Cordoba added.

Meet the band

Kate Strickland, the fiddle player of the group, studied with Mark O’Conner, who has played with country greats including Charlie Daniels, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas. Strickland is from Shelby, North Carolina, and is the songwriter of “Different State,” one of the new Gold Road Singles to be released late January 2024. She was also featured on the national podcast “Big Sound Small Town” to be released later in January. In addition to fiddling for Gold Road, Strickland also plays classical violin.

Caitlyn Burger of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, first got into music around age two. She was an outstanding contestant in the Miss South Carolina Pageant and is also a member of AU’s highly acclaimed group AUthenticity. Also, Burger was a featured artist in the President’s Gala with her original song “Brand New Juliet.”

“I grew up as a pageant kid, so I did a lot of singing in pageants for talent competitions and stuff like that. I just kept doing it and then my mom decided to put me in voice lessons and it’s just grown from there,” Burger said. 

Lead guitarist and vocalist Nathan Fowler from Ware Place, South Carolina, is a cousin to Country Music superstar Dolly Parton. Nathan has been playing Country/Gospel music since he was a very young boy in his grandfather’s traveling gospel group.  After his grandfather passed away, his mom started teaching him to play piano and drums. He eventually started playing in a southern gospel group of his own. 

“I’ve just been really in love with any southern music ever since,” said Fowler, who was also a featured musician in Rhinestone Cowboy and Country Music Review last summer and has developed a considerable following in the area. “One of my favorite groups right now is Brooks and Dunn—that type of music—so that’d be a big dream for me if I could ever get to that point… but really wherever the Lord leads is as good with me.”

Cassidy Clark is from Starr, South Carolina. Wehunt says of Clark, “She may be from a small town, but she has a big sound.” Clark is the songwriter of “Sugar Ain’t Sweet,” one of the Gold Road singles to be released later in January 2024. She was also featured in the 2023 President’s Gala to rave reviews. 

“Probably one of the first country songs I learned how to sing was a Carrie Underwood song—I think it was ‘Before He Cheats’—as a six year old little girl. I always wanted to be filmed, always recorded and I always wanted to watch myself perform. It was something I’ve always loved to do and I haven’t stopped ever since,” said Clark, adding that her biggest musical influences come from Carrie Underwood, Laney Wilson, Lady A and Shania Twain. 

As musical director for the group, Michael Hofmann of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, makes charts and, with input from bandmates, decides how songs will go together in a set. Though he is featured on drums most of the time, Hofmann will break out to play steel pan on the Jimmy Buffet medley and on the Gold Road original single “Saltwater Changes Everything.”

Hoffmann says band members are all good friends and he enjoys gaining experience performing before an audience.

Nick Joy is from the Columbia, South Carolina area and also has a mastery of several instruments. He writes songs and also leads worship at The Point, a contemporary church in Anderson. 

Ben Smith is from Anderson, South Carolina, and leads worship at Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Belton, South Carolina. He plays guitar and mandolin in the groups and is very accomplished on several instruments. Smith wrote a song for Gold Road that will be released later in the year. 

“I became interested in Gold Road when Michael and Joe told me they were starting up a country ensemble at AU,” Smith said. “Guitar was the first instrument I learned, but I picked up the mandolin about two or three years after starting guitar at age 7. Although playing guitar and singing is what I enjoy the most, I really love playing the mandolin.”

Tickets for Gold Road’s upcoming performances are available at Visit Gold Road’s website at

News Release Contact

Executive Director for Public Relations