Belmont alumni shine at eighth annual Homecoming in the Round
A&E

Belmont alumni shine at eighth annual Homecoming in the Round

The eighth annual Homecoming in the Round was a night to remember for music lovers at Belmont and around Nashville. 

The audience was presented with beautiful stories of love and life that kept the atmosphere perfect for the spirit of Valentine’s Day. 

Belmont alumni from graduating classes ranging from 2005 to 2018 came together to spread their love of Jesus, music and Belmont.

Hosts Cheryl and Adam Stark, class of 2010 and 2008 respectively, quickly made the audience swoon with the story of their seven-year marriage. Throughout the two-hour alumni concert, their love was displayed through gospel duets that sent the message of what love and marriage looks like when you live with faith together. 

The first act was singer-songwriter Rebekah Gunkel, who goes by her stage name, Bekah Joel. The 2005 graduate has spent the past two decades touring the country as a worship leader and writing gospel songs for fellow worship singers along the way. 

Joel spent her time on stage singing about the many ways of Jesus’ love, including an unreleased song called “Everything Must Go” that will be released on all music platforms on February 28. 

Next up was award-winning songwriter Chad Cates. The Tennessee native has an extensive resume that consists of eight No. 1 songs and 25 radio singles sung by artists like Mandisa and Casting Crowns. He also has song appearances on big name television networks, along with two Dove Awards and five other nominations in his career. 

His performance was filled with songs from the heart about his wife, his daughter and living with God. After singing beautiful, slow songs of love and life, Cates stepped away from the piano and faced the audience with a guitar to sing about building a house for his dog that kept the audience laughing. 

Hosts Adam and Charyl sang alongside the next performer, Mike Grayson, who currently attends and leads worship at Cross Point Church in Nashville. Before becoming a worship leader, the 2007 graduate spent his first years post-degree by joining his band MIKESCHAIR with Centricity Publishing. 

The band brought in multiple chart topping songs, including “All For You” and “Someone Worth Dying For.” Together, they led a mini-worship set that sent messages encouraging the audience to follow Jesus through the hard times and to always pray. 

The fourth act, 2018 graduate Anna Vaus, switched up the tone by adding country music to the set list. Vaus was the first singer/songwriter student to be awarded the Women Creators Fund scholarship, established in 2016 by country star Miranda Lambert. Vaus has gone on to open for major country artists like Willie Nelson and Hunter Hayes, and she’s earned one of the spots on CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2019. 

Vaus’s boyfriend played a second guitar during her set as she admitted they were celebrating Valentine’s Day by performing together. She kept things mellow with soft songs about growing up in the West and messages that she’d give herself as she grew older. 

The last act was 2014 graduate CJ Scholar, and singer/songwriter from Baton Rouge. His short time so far in the industry has consisted of writing for major country artists, touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Jr, along with hitting his first No. 1 for writing the song “Up Down” sung by Morgan Wallen. He concluded the evening with rock ‘n’ roll-inspired country that surely woke the crowd up for the drive home. 

Article written by Julieann Challacombe. Photos by Julieann Challacombe.

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