Garth Brooks makes guest appearance at Homecoming in the Round
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Garth Brooks makes guest appearance at Homecoming in the Round

Belmont’s sixth annual Homecoming in the Round concert featured decades of great Belmont songwriters along with a very special guest: country legend Garth Brooks.

Matt Dragstrem, a 2008 graduate, opened the night with a performance of his first No. 1 hit single, “Sippin’ On Fire,” recorded by Flordia Georgia Line. Dragstrem has written songs for Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton and Justin Moore.

Kel Taylor and Emma Harvey of the band Sawyer were the night’s youngest alumnae performers. Harvey’s electric guitar and Taylor’s vocals blended perfectly for their signature indie pop sound.

Justin Wilson, who has written for Luke Bryan, Tyler Farr and Blake Shelton, performed a heartfelt song about his struggles with bad decisions and making them right.

Sarah Peacock, a 2005 graduate, showed off her old-school country/Americana sound with her song “Waiting in Wyoming,” along with a moving performance of “The Cool Kids.”

Grammy winner Dwan Hill performed “Singing Songs,” — a timely reminder of the power of music to help change the world. Hill’s performance was particularly special because he was accompanied by his brother and fellow alumni Marcus Hill on drums and his freshman roommate Nate Dugger on guitar.

The evening’s host Gordon Kennedy, a 1981 graduate, performed his 1997 Grammy Song of the Year “Change the World” as well as a tribute to the late Billy Graham.

Kennedy then introduced the night’s surprise guest, Garth Brooks.

Brooks – father of a Belmont senior and husband of Belmont alumna Trisha Yearwood – took the stage to thunderous applause.

Accompanied only by his guitar, Brooks talked about his family and his inspirations, playing pieces of songs that shaped his life and noting influences like Merle Haggard to Aretha Franklin. He also gave the audience a chance to ask questions and make a few song requests.

One audience member asked how to know when a song is finished.

“When you are done writing your song, run it over with a truck, back it up, and run it over again and again until it is perfect and smooth,” Brooks said.

Brooks closed out his set with his 1990 classic, “Friends in Low Places,” and invited the audience to sing along.

The event was a powerful evening of music and, in the 10th anniversary year of Belmont’s songwriting major, offered an inspiring look at the talent Belmont has to offer.

Written by Steven Boero

Photo courtesy of Belmont Office of Communications

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