Updated: Apr 25, 2022
One of the bestselling solo artists of the century paid a visit to the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday night.
With nine diamond-certified records, two Grammy Awards and a music career spanning almost four decades, Garth Brooks has no shortage of music industry advice — and neither does his wife, three-time Grammy winner and Belmont alumna Trisha Yearwood.
The country-star couple took the stage for an intimate night of Q&A and song requests from Belmont students.
A master storyteller and a charismatic speaker just as quick to burst into song as he is to shed a tear on stage, Brooks jumped right into answering questions from students, offering advice to aspiring artists in the crowd.
Some of his biggest tips to singers and songwriters? Know the value of your work, surround yourself with people who believe in you, “write, write, write” and take advantage of every career opportunity that comes your way.
“Now that you’re here, now that they gave you the ball, run your ass off. Try everything. Kick down every door you possibly can. See what kind of trouble you can get into,” he said.
Brooks also dug into the topic of his master recordings, which he famously owns, and why he strictly controls where his catalog is played. Fans lament the fact that Brooks’ music isn’t available on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, but the artist said there’s a just reason for that; it comes down to taking care of songwriters.
Brooks values physical album sales and advises new artists in the crowd to do the same, because they get the creative team behind the music a bigger, better payday.
“You can try to grow a garden all day long without seeds; never gonna happen. You try and grow the music business without songwriters? All you’re going to end up with is a pile of s— out there,” Brooks said.
But fans at the Fisher Center didn’t have to worry about access to Brooks’ music with the artist onstage acting as their personal jukebox. Taking requests from anyone who asked, Brooks launched into his hits and his deeper cuts with ease, strumming out “Not Counting You,” “Thunder Rolls,” “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and more.
Brooks called Yearwood to the stage about halfway through the event to contribute to the night’s conversation — and the music.
A decorated country artist in her own right, Yearwood, graduated from Belmont in 1987 with a music business degree.
Brooks and Yearwood offered a closer look into their individual careers, advising Belmont students on how to achieve similar success.
“My advice is don’t think about what the radio’s going to play,” said Yearwood. “What do I want to say? What do I need to do? What fulfills me? There’s going to be someone out there that feels the same way that you do, so just don’t be afraid of that risk. Don’t be afraid to just do what you do.”
Ending her stage time on a high note with a snippet of her 1991 debut hit, “She’s in Love with the Boy,” Yearwood left students with the message that they should stay true to themselves and their work, and Brooks agreed.
“There’s nobody like you and there never will be, and if you’re you and this doesn’t work out, you’ve been true to yourself, which is who you have to live with the rest of your life,” he said.
On that note, make sure you love the songs you put out into the world, Brooks said, on the chance you have to perform them for the rest of your career.
After more than two hours of questions and choruses in the Fisher Center, Brooks brought the night to a close with crowd-pleasing favorites: Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” as well as Brooks’ own ultra-singable arena anthem “Friends in Low Places,” both of which brought the audience to its feet, swaying arm and arm.
University president Dr. Greg Jones sang along, as did a theater full of student fans excited to be at the once-in-a-lifetime show on campus.
“I think it’s really awesome that things like this can just spring up,” said freshman Luke Dill. “Things like this show that this school has a lot of pull on interesting things in Nashville … people who have created a scene for themselves all over the world.”
From their global careers to the Belmont stage, Brooks and Yearwood proved music can bring people together during a trying time in history — whether that comes from listening to it or, for many rising stars at Belmont, making it.
“Use your voice to scream for love,” said Brooks. “Demand that love get a chance. Listen to people whether you love them or not.”
PHOTO: Garth Brooks accompanies Trisha Yearwood in a duet onstage at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, March 2, 2022. Olivia Peppiatt / Belmont Vision
This article was written by Anna Jackson and Olivia Peppiatt.