UNA Signs Lease With Grammy Award Winner, Plans Departmental Move

Feb. 3, 2012


FLORENCE, Ala. - The University of North Alabama signed a renewable lease agreement Feb. 3 with Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Gary Baker of Noiseblock Music Group to bring the Department of Entertainment Industryto downtown Florence.

The lease agreement is written in five-year increments and will be first optioned to UNA. Noiseblock Music Group is a state-of-the-art recording studio owned by Baker, who is known forhis song “I Swear,” which won a 1995 Grammy award for “Best Country Song” and reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts by country singer John Michael Montgomery and R&B group All 4 One.

Beginning in August of 2012, UNA students will be able to use the recording studio and its equipment for a true hands-on experience in their classes. In essence, the studio will be their classroom, according to Dr. Bob Garfrerick, chair of the Department ofEntertainment Industry.

He said the new downtown location for his department will be a remarkable opportunity for students and is a perfect storm of events and variables coming together at the perfect moment.

“I don’t know anyone in the state that will have one quite like this,” he said. “Students will be able to manage the space and market the space. It will not just be for students who wish to be sound engineers or musicians, but also for those who want to workin marketing and management.”

The new location will help to improve UNA students’ educations by allowing them to put on live performances in the keynote room with professionals who will be available to listen and give direction. Baker said that students must know how to draw people to theirshows in order to make it in the future entertainment industry.

“I think this is just one of many things that are exciting and creating new educational opportunities for students,” said UNA President Dr. Bill Cale.

Baker said that when he first purchased the building, he envisioned building a partnership with UNA.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Baker said. “I stayed in Muscle Shoals and built that studio to keep people from moving away that had talent.”

Noiseblock Music Group has roots with UNA since all of its employees are alumni of the university. Baker said this connection will be important for the Department of Entertainment Industry and is going to give UNA a downtown presence.