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From Kirby to Country

December 14, 2016

Alumna Carrie Lelwica is immersed in the Nashville country music scene.

Carrie Lelwica '14 recently worked the 50th Anniversary of the Country Music Association Awards and the Musician's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Nashville, Tenn. She met dozens of artists including inductees Garth Brooks, Jerry Reed, and Ricky Skaggs. 

Before the induction ceremony, Carrie raced from one task to the next, hauling a shopping bag full of hand towels. "Did you ladies go shopping? There must have been a sale!" Garth Brooks teased her as they passed in a hallway. Carrie looked down at the bag, "No, these are for you," she teased back, and tried to get him to take a towel. They both laughed.

The show began. Back stage, Garth stood next to Carrie and some of the production staff. In the performance hall, a video highlighted moments from Garth's career. Carrie, Garth, and the other staff watched it on the video monitor, and Garth played along with the songs to warm up. The video showcased the song, "The Thunder Rolls," and then switched to "Papa Loved Momma." Garth leaned toward Carrie and her peers, "It's funny, sometimes the craziest things you write turn out to be a huge hit," he confided. And then Garth got the cue and walked on stage for his performance.

Exchanges like that matter to Carrie. "For me, being part of a meaningful moment is what it's all about," she says. "It's not only that I've created a memory, I've been able to witness a historic moment in country music."

THE UMD START

Carrie, who earned her degree in communication, cut her teeth on producing events at UMD. As Kirby Program Board concert chair in 2013—14, she brought rapper Ludacris to AMSOIL Arena. Before that, she brought in many more acts including country singer Dustin Lynch. "I worked with booking agents and coordinated events with the staff at Kirby Program Board and UMD," she says. Her work included ticket sales, parking, catering, booking police, graphics, poster design, and working with local production companies.

Her talent, persistence, and willingness to take risks has served her well. While still at UMD, Carrie jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for a George Jones Nashville Tribute Concert. Traveling to Nashville on her own dime, she worked hard and met one of the event producers, who later became her employer at the entertainment marketing firm, So Good! Entertainment.

UMD helped. Carrie says a homepage story written by University Marketing and Public Relations and the Student Employee of the Year Award she received at UMD gave Carrie credibility with potential employers. At the Alumni Association Networking Night, Carrie received the name of a contact in Nashville who helped out with more connections and even accommodations for those first scary weeks in the city.

Carrie's career took off. She has worked as a casting assistant for the TV show, The Bachelor in 2015 and 2016. She has also worked in artist management for country artists, Mandy McMillan and Nestor AnDress. She's currently working on a project with the apparel brand, Love Your Melon.

Is that all? Carrie is loving every minute of her new career, but she still has a few dreams. "Someday, I'd love to be part of a nation-wide tour with a country artist," she says. But most of all, Carrie wants to do what she does best, helping people and make a difference in the world. "I love working behind the scenes on projects and events. I call it the Country Music Magic."

Learn more about UMD's Communication program

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