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MTSU Magazine features aspiring teacher turned musician, new app

The summer 2016 edition of MTSU Magazine profiles an English major whose designs on being a classroom teacher has taken an unexpected detour after her first album lit up the indie rock world over the past year.

As an MTSU underclassman with a minor in secondary education, Julien Baker penned a batch of heartfelt songs during late-night writing sessions in the piano closets in the Saunders Fine Arts building on campus.

The subsequent album that emerged from those sessions, “Sprained Ankle,” eventually led Rolling Stone magazine to name Baker to its list of “10 new artists you need to know” in 2015.

MTSU English major turned musician Julien Baker is featured on the cover of the latest MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

MTSU English major turned musician Julien Baker is featured on the cover of the latest MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

Readers may download the latest MTSU Magazine for their iPads and Android devices through the new MTSU Mag Stand app, which replaces the previous MTSU Magazine app.

MTSU Mag Stand is available in the iTunes store and now at Google Play and includes special multimedia content built into every issue that’s not available in the print editions.

Special multimedia content is included in the digital version of the latest profile on Baker. Since the Rolling Stone magazine kudos, hundreds of media outlets have profiled her, including National Public Radio, The New Yorker and The New York Times, while scads of other music-specific outlets placed “Sprained Ankle” on their annual lists of top albums for 2015 — alongside, in some cases, names like Adele and Kendrick Lamar.

In almost overnight fashion, Baker, 20, from Memphis, achieved bona fide indie-music-darling status, a designation that has since taken her across the globe to perform her music.

What makes Baker’s story all the more remarkable is that for most of her meteoric musical rise, she remained enrolled and taking classes at MTSU; she recently announced a hiatus from her studies to concentrate on her career.

Baker’s recollections of concerts, travel agendas and promotional schedules are vividly interspersed with names of professors who saw her desire to learn amidst her rise in fame and who did everything they could to make sure her efforts to succeed weren’t in vain.

With a laser focus on student success, the university staff’s emphasis on retention and graduation is obvious in Baker’s student experience.

Baker’s ability to balance the pursuit of her degree and career opportunities offers proof that MTSU’s student success emphasis is more than just lip service.

Other articles in the new edition of the magazine include:

  • A glimpse of MTSU head football coach Rick Stockstill’s message to recruits and their families.MTSU Mag Stand button
  • The story of an MTSU student’s central role in reviving hemp production in Tennessee, which promises to yield a lucrative harvest of University research.
  • A wrap up of MTSU’s recently concluded $105-million Centennial campaign, one of the most important occurrences at MTSU in decades.
  • A look back at the MTSU men’s basketball squad’s stunning upset of the Michigan State Spartans in the 2016 NCAA tournament, and the global attention the University benefitted from as a result.
  • An interview with recording industry chair Beverly Keel, who kick-started a national public discourse about the need for greater female involvement in country music.

Printed copies of MTSU Magazine are distributed twice annually to more than 110,000 alumni readers. The publication also is distributed to interested community members, including state lawmakers and members of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

MTSU Magazine also is available online at www.mtsumagazine.com.

— Drew Ruble (drew.ruble@mtsu.edu)

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