Musician Lyle Lovett performs with UNT’s One O’Clock Lab Band during campus visit

Friday, April 5, 2024 - 11:34

DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas welcomed Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett to campus April 3 and 4. His visit to the College of Music included a standing-room-only performance with the university’s famed One O’Clock Lab Band.  

“Meeting students is always inspiring to me,” Lovett said. “Anytime you get to be around people who are interested and engaged and trying their best, that’s all you can ask for.”

Lovett has recorded more than a dozen albums and won four Grammy awards — the most prestigious award in the recording industry. Best known as a country artist, his music crosses genres by incorporating elements of jazz, blues, Western, gospel and swing. The Houston native is also an actor whose credits include the television drama “Blue Bloods,” sitcom “Mad About You” and the 1999 film “Cookie’s Fortune.”

During his two-day artist-in-residency at the College of Music, Lovett met with UNT President Neal Smatresk and attended a songwriter masterclass led by professors Rosana Eckert and Federico Llach. He also participated in a question-and-answer session with students facilitated by Jessica Muñiz-Collado, associate professor of music business.

“I came here to learn from you all. The University of North Texas has such a stellar legacy and reputation,” Lovett said.

Lovett  encouraged music students to remain true to their craft while becoming educated about the recording industry — such as through UNT’s newly established bachelor’s in commercial music degree program that is set to begin in Fall 2025.  

“Learn the business and learn how what you want to do might fit into that. Don’t change what you want to do to fit in, but find the right spot for what you do,” he said.

Despite having graduated from Texas A&M University, Lovett is strongly connected to UNT through Brad Leali, professor of jazz saxophone in the College of Music, who has toured for more than a decade as a member of Lovett’s Large Band.

Lyle Lovett with UNT's One O'clock Lab Band

Through interacting with Lovett, Leali said he hoped the students “would see that they don’t have to change, that their own authenticity is enough. Lyle is a megastar, and what you see onstage is who he is offstage.”

Leali joined Lovett for a packed rehearsal of the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band, which backed them on a trio of Lovett’s songs, including the hit “That’s Right (You Aren’t From Texas)” and the whimsical tune “Naked Party,” for which second-year doctoral student and tenor saxophone player Brian Lawrence wrote the musical arrangement the day prior to the performance.

Lawrence said it was “an honor” to play alongside Lovett and learn about his career as a touring musician.

“To see someone who has been doing that as many years as he has, and just his comfort level and adaptability, it’s inspiring,” he said. 

College of Music dean John W. Richmond said Lovett’s visit was “vitally important to the students’ education and to their motivation. They see the reality of the possibilities for a career in music. There are many expressions of ways to be a musical professional in the world, and this was certainly a vivid and inspiring example that they will carry with them throughout their lifetimes.”


About the College of Music

UNT’s College of Music is the largest music program at a public university in the United States and one of the most globally respected. Faculty include internationally acclaimed artists and scholars in composition, conducting, ethnomusicology, music education, music history and performance. The college presents nearly 1,000 music events annually, and students perform in more than 70 ensembles at eight campus venues, which can be viewed worldwide via free livestreaming. UNT music alumni can be found around the world in impressive, award-winning careers across a wide range of music professions.

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