The Curb Institute was founded in 2006 through a generous gift from the Mike Curb Family Foundation to foster awareness and understanding of the distinct musical traditions of the South and to study the effect music has had on its culture, history, and economy. Students learn the inner workings of the music business—from sound editing and video production to marketing and community engagement—as they prepare to become the next generation of leaders.
The Audio Engineering course takes students out of the Curb Institute’s recording room to Memphis’ historic studios, including Ardent Studios, whose artists have included Isaac Hayes, Led Zeppelin, the Staples Singers, and Bob Dylan, and Royal Studios, where Al Green, Ann Peebles, John Mayer, and Bruno Mars recorded hits.
Blues Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winner Bobby Rush, who was named the inaugural Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts in 2014 and awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the college in 2021, partnered with the Curb Institute on a recording of an original blues version of “America the Beautiful” at Royal Studios.
Curb fellows are comfortable working as members of teams, processing feedback, and making connections with recording artists, producers, concert promoters, engineers, songwriters, and copyright and trademark attorneys.
“The thing that we stress is the importance of working together,” says Bass.