Growing Rhodes’ Music Community: Khulan Erdenechimeg Connects Students with Memphis’ Music Scene

a young Mongolian woman works a sound board at an outdoor concert
Khulan Erdenechimeg ’24 working at the Overton Park Shell

In a world where the music scene can seem like an exclusive club, Khulan Erdenechimeg ’24 has been creating equitable spaces for music enthusiasts through the Rhodes’ Mike Curb Institute for Music. For more than two years, the business major and music minor has led a team of more than 20 Curb fellows, organizing events such as tours to local historic studios, talks from music business industry professionals, and label showcases.

Born in Mongolia, Erdenechimeg grew up in a family whose appreciation for the arts exposed her to a diverse range of musical genres. From the soulful tunes of Mongolian and Russian folk music to the infectious beats of Western pop and rock, her upbringing was a rich musical tapestry that fueled her curiosity for the world beyond home. Music, in all its forms, became a guiding light for her.

Erdenechimeg kicked off her college search with a desire to dive into the world of the blues, inspired by none other than her musical idol, legendary Jack White of The White Stripes—who incidentally has spent time recording and producing in Memphis. Located in a city known as the home of the blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, Rhodes stood out as the natural choice for Erdenechimeg, and learning that the Curb Institute produces a concert series in a house once owned by Elvis Presley helped seal the deal. 

a young Mongolian woman with shoulder-length black hair
Khulan Erdenechimeg ’24

“I was determined to become a part of Curb even before setting foot on campus,” says Erdenechimeg, “and I reached out to Professor John Bass, the director of Curb.” 

However, COVID-19 hit, and students were restricted from working on music projects in person. Erdenechimeg didn’t get to work for the Curb Institute as a fellow until September 2021, when some of the COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted. “Student enthusiasm significantly waned during the pandemic,” Erdenechimeg recalls. “Curb made valiant efforts to sustain activities over Zoom, but at the end of the day, music is a very in-person thing, and building a community is a very in-person thing.”

Moreover, Erdenechimeg strongly believed that Curb could benefit from welcoming members with a broader range of experiences. Her goal became twofold: to bring people back together through live events and to include anyone with the slightest interest in music. She wanted to create spaces for people of different backgrounds to feel comfortable and be able to fully participate in creating music, whether behind the scenes or out front.

One of her first moves was organizing jam sessions on campus open to all students. “Our approach has been if you’re interested in music, come and play the shaker or just dance. You don’t have to be a Curb Fellow or be a guitarist to enjoy the Curb activities.” 

Erdenechimeg’s official introduction to the Memphis music community came through an audio engineering course at Rhodes partially funded by Curb, during which she landed an internship with a local studio. She has since worked with the Overton Park Shell, Royal Studios, and Goner Records in Memphis, as well as the music finance firm Sound Royalties in West Palm Beach, FL.

As a Curb leader, Erdenechimeg has leveraged the connections she established through exposure to the music scene to organize studio tours for Curb Fellows. “Thanks to Curb, I've been well connected, so I wanted to give back to the community.” Two students have gone on to record projects in the studio she used to intern at. “It feels good, because artists have to pay for time used in recording sessions, and I’m helping folks bring their ideas to life at a good, affordable place and bringing business to local studios.”

As Erdenechimeg heads toward her graduation, she leaves behind a Rhodes experience that she has enriched through initiatives and her commitment to music and community. Erdenechimeg envisions herself as a game-changer in the music business, armed with the lessons and experiences from her journey. She knows that behind every song and every artist is a unique story waiting to be shared, and it's her mission to ensure that these stories are as diverse and inclusive as the world of music itself.

By Tram Truong ‘24