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AU News

Whether it’s a bluegrass tune or jazz standard, AUthenticity represents AU at secular and commercial events

September 9, 2015

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AUthenticity is Anderson University’s first commercial music ensemble. The group is the brainchild of AU President Dr. Evans Whitaker, who thought that a band able to play different musical styles might increase the university’s reach through appearances at a wide variety of venues. AU already has very talented and busy worship teams and classical performing ensembles. So the goal with AUthenticity is to represent AU at both secular and commercial events. They have performed at a legislative luncheon in the South Carolina state Capitol, Saluda Baptist Association meetings, and the Anderson Motor Speedway, as well as at corporate functions, festivals, parades, schools, and churches.

Following their selection last year, the ten inaugural members got together right before school started in August 2014. The five freshmen, four sophomores, and a senior had different talents. Some were singers while others played guitar, drums, keyboard, synthesizer, mandolin, saxophone, voice, and dobro (an acoustic guitar with a built-in metal resonator). Some of the students were music or ministry majors though others studied marketing or communications.

The diversity in talents and majors continues this year. Business major and drummer, Adam Hatteberg, from Cleveland, Ohio, had narrowed it down to AU and a university in Ohio. He chose AU because he could major in business and still play in a band. 

Crediting Dr. Whitaker with visionary thinking, AUthenticity co-director Kelley Norwine said “this band gives non-music majors, who are excellent musicians, an opportunity to continue their craft.” AUthenticity subdivides into three smaller groups according to the requests that arrive: Solid Gold (funk and rock), Gold Rush (bluegrass), and Liquid Gold (contemporary jazz).

Norwine co-directs the group with her husband Doug Norwine. The couple’s music backgrounds make them a natural fit. Doug Norwine is an assistant professor of music and the director of The Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music at AU. He is also a commercial musician, a best-selling saxophonist who has performed for such TV shows as The Simpsons, Full House, Roseanne, Seinfeld, and The Tonight Show. Kelley Norwine, who serves as Director of External Relations for the South Carolina School of the Arts, has a music degree and long experience as a minister of music and worship leader in churches from Los Angeles to South Carolina. The Norwines jumped at the chance to help steer this new venture. 

“A band with a variety of styles of music opens up our ability to get into schools and festivals and reach kids that might not otherwise hear about AU,” Kelley Norwine says, adding that a band that kids enjoy “might change their life in the process.”

That’s already happening to the band members themselves. Student Andrew Poston, whose dream is to become a contemporary Christian performing artist, was debating between AU and a different college in South Carolina when he visited campus and auditioned for the vocal performance program. 

“Doug sat in, and after he heard me sing, Kelley emailed me to audition for the band,” says Poston. Since he lived four hours away, he sent some videos, and the invitation to join AUthenticity “definitely influenced my decision to come to Anderson,” he says. “I’ve grown so much,” he says. “I’ve learned about the structure of songs. My ear for music has grown. Doug and Kelley have impacted all of us. Doug relates theory to stuff we do in the band. Kelley gives pointers on singing; anytime I’m having trouble finding harmony, she’s willing to help. And they both advise us on sound, like sound checks when we’re doing a gig and how the mikes work.”

Newest member of AUthenticity, Kensley Moore, says that a visit to Anderson last year, and being invited to sit in on a band rehearsal, made her decide on Anderson. “I had looked at about 12 schools, but when my parents and I came to Anderson, and I was able to sit in on an AUthenticity rehearsal, I fell in love with the idea of coming to AU. The quality of the musicians was amazing, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this group!” 

Sophomore Coleman Fitts was pretty much set on following his band mates from high school to a different college in South Carolina. “I’m so glad I chose AU. Doug and Kelley Norwine have made a huge difference in my life. “

Katie Soto, a commercial music major who sings soprano with the group, describes a performance at a dinner for university presidents: “We did a lot of improvised stuff that’s fun. Someone will say, ‘Hey, what if we did this song?’ They start playing, and I start singing.”


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