Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Luke Gambill

Introducing Lee’s newest Assistant Professor of Music Business, Dr. Luke Gambill!

Q: So tell us a bit about yourself! Your primary instrument, educational background, previous experience teaching or in the industry, you know, all of those hard hitting questions.

A: My primary instrument as an undergraduate church music major was voice, but most people today know me as a producer and keyboardist (though, the drum kit was my first love).
I have a unique blend of an academic background. I completed a B.A. in Church Music from Southeastern University (a historically Pentecostal institution). My M.A. in Worship Studies was completed at Liberty University (a historically fundamental Baptist intuition). Then, to top it off, I completed a Doctorate in Worship Studies at the Robert E. Webber Insititute for Worship Studies (a historically ecumenical/Anglican institution). And, somewhere between all of that, I completed a Specialist Certificate in Music Business from Berklee College of Music, as well as several courses at the Disney Institute (focus on excellence and leadership).
After 7 years working full-time on the local church level as a worship pastor, God swiftly and surprisingly opened the door to the music industry. For close to 20 years I was honored to work for Integrity Music (Creative Manager) and Capitol Christian Music Group (Creative Director) as an executive producer, as well as a hands-on studio producer. That time allowed me to work with individuals such as Michael W. Smith, Laura Story, Travis Cottrell, Don Moen, Paul Baloche, and many other wonderful artists. Realizing God began calling me toward academia, the last two years I was honored to serve at William Carey University as their Coordinator for Worship Studies (preparing future worship pastors for ministry). While at Carey, I remained well engaged in with the music business in Nashville, which began my journey to accepting the position at Lee University as Assistant Professor of Music Business.

Q: What classes do you teach here at Lee?

A: The beauty in my eclectic academic, church, and career experiences is I’m grateful for the many sides to music business and church music that I was able to bring to Lee. Thus, as more of a “hybrid” professor, I’ve been tasked to teach classes across both disciplines. This year, along with some additional responsibilities, I am scheduled to teach these classes:

  1. Rehearsal Techniques for Ministry
  2. History of Commercial Music
  3. Philosophy and Worldview
  4. Music Technology
  5. Aspects of Leading Worship
  6. Intro to Music Business
  7. Music Business Internship
  8. Campus Choir

Q: What are you most excited about/looking forward to while working at Lee?

A: As a 3rd generation Church of God “PK,” I am grateful to have known several of the Lee faculty members for many, many years. So, for me, I have been excited about working alongside many of my denominational musical heroes, colleagues, and friends, while getting to know so many other new individuals, as well.

Q: Any advice for music students?

A: My daughters have heard this from me a thousand times… If at all possible, never burn a bridge. Not only is this a scriptural concept, but I have seen positive fruit from this approach over and over again. You never know who you’re going to need and you never know when you’re going to be needed. Always be ready!

Q: How do you feel your Christian faith has impacted your life in the music industry?

A: Like any other type of career path, there are some areas of the music industry that can be tough to journey through as a believer. However, I was encouraged very early in my move to Nashville to connect with those outside of the music industry. Not only did this bring friendships that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise but helped bring a healthy perspective in lieu of a society that has unfortunate cynicism toward Christianity.

Q: Finally, any favorite memories of a moment in your musical career?

A: No doubt working on project releases with both Michael W. Smith and The Robertson Family (Duck Dynasty) in the same year. What a fun year that was!

Thanks for being our September Spotlight, Dr. Gambill! We wish you all the best and we’re so glad you’ve joined the Lee family!

Student Spotlight – Logan Henson

Logan Henson is a freshman music education major from Ootlewah, TN who’s primary instrument is French horn.

So how did he choose Lee?

“Initially, I had never thought about Lee until I participated in Lee Honor Band in my Sophomore year of high school. After that experience, I felt like Lee was the place I was meant to spend the next 4 years. I love that music is embedded into the schools roots.”

His career goals include sharing his love of music with others. “I hope to one day educate the next generation of musicians, whether it be at a college campus or high school band room.”

Since coming to campus, Logan has been keeping busy playing in Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Symphonic Band and getting to know the students in his Gateway. “Some of my favorite memories of Lee so far have been with my Gateway group. I love Lee!”

We’re so glad to have you in the School of Music, Logan! Welcome home!

A School of Music Special Spotlight – Darlia Conn

Darlia Conn, one of the School of Music’s longest working accompanists, is retiring. We reached out and asked her a few questions about her time at Lee and this is what she had to say:

“I started working in the Department of Music at Lee College many years ago when Dr. David Horton was the Chair and we were located in an old World War II relic in the space that is right across from the current Deacon Jones Dining Hall.  He asked me to teach non-music majors who wished to play the piano.  That is where it all began.  I had earlier taught piano lessons in a private studio in Cleveland and was myself a graduate of the department.   

About the same time, I began accompanying for the occasional vocal student in Mrs. Horton’s studio.  Accompanying had always been my first love.  Memorization is not necessary, and it is a less solitary occupation.  I also love the wide range of music that you get to practice.  As a student, accompanying had provided my work-study opportunity.  It became my main focus after I completed a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1995.  That was the Fall that we opened the new Curtsinger Building.   

As I am married to Paul Conn, president of Lee for the past 34 years, all of Lee University has also been my life’s occupation.  However, being part of the School of Music for more than 30 years has given me a home on campus.  Our faculty and students are the ones I know the best and with whom I have been able to share life.  It has been such a privilege!  I have been an advocate for the School of Music wherever I go and will continue to do so. 

Having officially retired and moved out of my studio, I will still stay involved with music at Lee University, not because it is required of me, but because it is my first love. For all the music majors at Lee, my advice is to work hard and learn to listen with your heart as well as your ears.  You are the blessed ones who can make music your life’s work.”

Thank you for all of your love and contributions to this school. You surely helped make it the special place that it is!

Faculty Spotlight January

Our first faculty spotlight of this year is the well known Lee couple Dr. and Mrs. Sheeks. In Fall 2018, the Randy and Debbie Sheeks took over as directors of Ladies of Lee, and have even released a new album showcasing the choir’s growth. We had a chance to ask them a few questions about their time at Lee, and the impact the choir has made in the recent years.

Check out a small glimpse of their newest CD at the bottom of the page!

Q: How long have you both been at Lee?

D: We are in our 10th year of teaching at Lee.

Q: What is it like working together as a married couple?

R: It’s pretty wonderful to share so much of life together. However, you do have to be intentional to be sure you have a life outside of Lee. We enjoy our family, reading, movies, and a good trip to the beach. Then I am a huge North Carolina Basketball fan as well. (Don’t ask how I’m enjoying this season.)

D: Working together is wonderful!  We have been a team now for many years and it is our “normal” mode of life.  There are times of compromise and “give and take”, but for the most part, we manage that pretty well.  I think we both know we have certain strengths and try to use those in our work.

Q: The new Ladies of Lee album is finally out!  What are your favorite songs? 

D: Hiding Place, The Lord’s Prayer and Goodness of God.

R: We love them all for different reasons. The Ladies really did a great job recording these at the end of the fall semester. They recorded 8 songs in just two sessions and then we used recordings from previous semesters to round out the project. If I have to pick favorites, they would be The Lord’s Prayer, You Are My Hiding Place, The Goodness of God, and Psalm 23.

Q: What was the process like creating the album? Was it difficult to choose the songs? 

R: We really did not make song selection a difficult process. We chose songs that we were singing last semester and tried to choose things that represented some of the eclectic mix of songs in our repertoire. 

D: The Ladies of Lee made this process a real joy!  They came focused and prepared to work hard and give their best energy and vocal skills. 

Q: Why did you create the album? 

R: The number one motivation to record last semester was to provide an avenue for the Ladies to raise money for a European tour scheduled for May. We were able to record using funds raised last semester and allow the choir members to sell the CDs with 100% of the profit going toward their trip. This has been a nice way for the Ladies to raise money for the trip. Each choir member must raise $3500 so this was a great start. 

Q: What’s one goal for the Ladies of Lee this year of 2020?

R: In addition to emphasizing choral excellence and the Christian community within the group, the Europe trip is a huge goal. We will perform in 3 countries (Hungary, Czechnia, and Germany) and get to visit 5 (add France and Austria). We will sing in schools, churches, and a military base. One of the major stops on our trip will be Lee’s sister school, The European Theological Seminary in Kniebis, Germany. This is obviously a huge undertaking for the choir. The trip is scheduled for May 9-22. We believe it is a God-ordained opportunity to share the message of Christ through the unique and beautiful sounds of the Ladies of Lee. While it’s lot of work, it will be worth it!

Student Spotlight October 2019

Our student spotlight for October is actually twins Lydia and Julia Bobell! Both Julia and Lydia are juniors at Lee with a passion for learning and collaboration. As Julia is an oboe performance major and Lydia is a flute performance major, they have the opportunity to perform together on several occasions. We had the chance to ask both of them some questions about their lives, and the impact Lee has made on them.

Q: What are your future goals?

Julia: I want to perform in the pit orchestra for musicals/ join a military band so they can pay for my future education (masters, doctorate).

Lydia: I would like to get my master (get an assistantship) and doctorate in performance or possibly conducting. Then I would like to teach for a college or university (possibly Lee one day) and play for a major symphony. Maybe go into military to help pay for my doctorate and play for a fife band.

Q: What’s your favorite part about having your twin at Lee?

Julia: I always have a study partner and an emotional support person at all times. I can cry in front of her whenever I need to and same goes for her. Plus I don’t feel so lonely. I always have a best friend with me.

Lydia: I like being able to look at someone and have them understand my happiness/frustration/annoyance without words. We are basically the perfect married couple.

Q: How has Lee helped your career?

Julia: Lee has helped my career by preparing me for rejection. That sounds terrible, but hearing the stories of my professors who didn’t get the job or wasn’t picked for a certain position in an ensemble actually encourages me. It’s not because I suck. It’s just because music is such a hard career to peruse that I can’t let a rejection get in the way of pushing on for my dream. Also Lee has helped me to become more focused on my relationship with God. People always say that Lee is a “bubble”. They say it in a derogatory way, but I see it as a good thing. Here, I can focus on my relationship with God, focus on my studies, and focus on my career as a performer without the influence of the world really getting in my way.

Lydia: Lee has helped me stretch my limits. I was an A student in high school, got along with everyone, state ranked musician, all that jazz. At Lee, i learned how to accept my first A- and B. I learned how to prioritize my time and accept that i could not physically do everything. I had to make sacrifices. I had to decide what was more important; studying that extra hour, practicing that extra hour, or hanging with my friends for an hour. On different days the answer was different and i am still learning that that is ok. Lee has taught me that God wants me to succeed and reach for my dream and He will help me, but I need to do my part and work for it.
This wasn’t a question but I am thankful for faculty like Dr. Warner, Dr. Wykoff, Dr. Lee, Ms. Karla Hyder, Mr. Vaught and just everyone in the SOM who truly make an effort to know how much they care about me. The teachers here are truly my favorite part about my LeeU experience.

Q: What would you recommend to an incoming freshman?

Julia: I would recommend being prepared for struggle. Everyone struggles at some point in college (not just music majors). That’s just life. It’s important to find someone to confide in and BE THAT PERSON for someone else. Do not suppress feelings. Let someone know how you feel for real everyday. Also, it’s ok to have a meltdown in the practice rooms. I’ve done that soooo many times. On a happy note, remember to have fun. If you aren’t having fun and are stressing about your major so much that you are causing emotional or physical harm to yourself then take a step back and figure out what the issue is. You need to look out for yourself now that you are away from home.

Lydia: I would recommend the freshmen to take advantage of the one on one classroom experience and really get to know their professors. The teachers here are the best at what they do in the world but know one would guess because they are so humble and give all the credit to God. I love being able to go to literally any of my teachers and they will sit down with me and just talk. Each teacher looks out for their students and so often I meet people who have never stepped foot in a professors office because they dont feel like they can. The thing is, at this academic level, our teachers will eventually be our colleagues and networking is soooooo important in any field. I could seriously talk about the faculty here for hours. Some have fed me, some i have cried in front of, and one kidnapped me and took me to smoothie king. I love the people here and i just want the freshmen to love them too!

Congrats to both Lydia and Julia on their hard work! We are so proud of you both and wish you success in everything you accomplish.