DENTON -- A billboard on the Dallas North Tolllway has been boasting one of the area’s best kept secrets that John Richmond wants to let everyone in on.
“I think it is something that is better known beyond Texas than it is within Texas," he said.
Richmond is dean of the University of North Texas College of Music, and the billboard reads “8 Grammys” in big white letters on a Mean Green background.
That was the impressive haul UNT alums brought in at last month’s Grammy Awards, and many more were nominated. But It only adds to a musical resume and reputation that has spanned years and seems to radiate more outside of the Lone Star State than within.
“Maybe it is a little bit of a hometown hero thing where we might be taken for granted,” said Andy Baylock, the director of UNT’s famous One O’Clock Lab Band. Baylock can personally tell you all about UNT’s reputation outside the state as he credits it for changing his life.
“I first heard about North Texas in high school and then I heard about the One O’Clock Lab Band,” he said. “It was a no-brainer where to go to school and I grew up in Pennsylvania.”
Once associated primarily with jazz, the music school at UNT showed off just how talented and versatile it can be with its showing at the Grammys. Among the alums winning awards were Maren Morris for Best Country Solo Performance. The instrumental band Snarky Puppy, comprised of several UNT alums, won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, and opera singer Patricia Racette contributed to winner for Best Engineered Album “Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles."
Superstar names like Norah Jones and Don Henley have also developed their musical talents at UNT, and for current student Luke Wingfield, a trumpet player with the One O’Clock Lab Band, it is a source of pride to take part in such a strong tradition of music.
“If someone asks where are you going to play music, you think Julliard, or somewhere in New York or L.A., but UNT is competitive with all those schools, and it is right here in Denton, Texas,” said Winfield. “It is a source of inspiration to us.”
And with more than 1,000 concerts a year, Richmond hopes DFW will take notice that the next big musical talent just might be performing in their own backyard.
“We are going to try and make our accomplishments more visible within Texas,” he said. “If you circulate music circles in New York or L.A. or for that matter, Beijing, Shanghai, or Bangkok, the music school here is well known.”
Richmond says the School or Music plans on increasing efforts to make their accomplishments more visible locally. In addition to things like the billboard on the Tollway, he said they have reached out to national publications and also used digital avenues to shine a spotlight on their music.