“Some people are watchers and some are doers, and some follow and some lead. Brandon Fraley is a doer. He steps up and he goes and gets what he wants,” Sandra Dudley said of her former student at a ceremony celebrating the artist Wednesday night.
Brandon Fraley– who graduated from Belmont in 2000– was the recipient of the School of Music’s 2015-16 Curtain Call Award, and a star-studded evening was put together in his honor.
Since graduating, Brandon Fraley signed a publishing deal with Sony L.A., worked alongside producer Tommy Sims, sang background vocals and played piano for Gretchen Wilson and was a band leader for Danny Gokey. Fraley and his wife Jamelle Fraley– who is also a Belmont alumna– make up the country duo Two Story Road.
“When I found out I was receiving this award, I knew that all the great things I’ve been able to do were because of people I’ve surrounded myself with. I really felt like I’d been standing on a lot of great peoples’ shoulders throughout the years,” Brandon Fraley said. “I’ve been able to pull little pieces and say, ‘That’s great, I want to get better at that. I want to do it like they can.’ The professors here and the musicians I had come tonight all played a part in who Brandon Fraley is today.”
Guest performers at the event included Cindy Morgan, who influenced Brandon with her powerful lyrics. Brandon played piano while she performed her song “How Could I Ask For More.”
Jill Phillips and her husband Andy Gullahorn performed “Beg” with Brandon Fraley accompanying them on piano. Brandon said he considered Phillips– a fellow Curtain Call Award recipient– a mentor and said he learned from her ability to captivate an audience while at Belmont.
Gokey came out to perform “Crazy Not To” with the Fraleys who also sang background vocals.
Brandon and Jamelle Fraley also performed two songs as Two Story Road and were joined by Hunter Hayes as they performed the lead track off their EP “Arson.”
During the event, Brandon Fraley shared a story he hadn’t even shared with his parents.
He saw one of his judge sheets while riding in the Wilson elevator after his audition to get into Belmont. The sheet said ”showed nothing.”
Once accepted to the school of music, he found out he would have to audition again at the end of the semester. It was the best thing that could have happened to him, he said.
“There is nothing better than proving your critics wrong. Getting this incredibly prestigious award that I will forever be honored, it kinda feels like I turned ‘showed nothing’ into ‘showed something,’” said Brandon Fraley.
He also shared many stories about his time at Belmont, describing himself as a sponge trying to soak up as much information as possible.
It was also at Belmont that he spent hours in practice rooms writing songs about girls he was too afraid to talk to– something Fraley says was very Taylor Swift-like looking back– and ultimately met his wife Jamelle during his senior year.
“I can’t think of anyone who deserves to be acknowledged and honored more than my husband. He truly is the hardest working, most creative man I know, and he still amazes me every day with bits of wisdom and moments of pure genius,” said Jamelle Fraley.
Story and photo by Hannah Pike