Education and rock music don’t mix the same way a gin and tonic does. Pink Floyd often comes to mind… “We don’t need no education. We don’t need thought control!” Maybe it seems strange that this attitude continues to this day as more rock stars than ever finish school and then reap the benefits of bending to the will of the Industry.
Though many musicians are self-taught and do not have a music degree, that does not many that they don’t have degrees in other areas. In the same way many wouldn’t believe that Shaq has taken the time choosing between online business colleges, he earned his MBA online, many would be astounded to learn that few rock stars have tossed their caps in the air as well. There really are exceptions to every “rule”. Two country stars, three hip-hop legends and a country singer who is better known for his other line of work top the charts in this niche.
Long before she was an award-winning country singer, Ms. Yearwood studied business at the academic level. She first earned a two-year business degree from Young Harris College in 1985, which was followed two years later by a bachelor’s degree in music business from Belmont University. In addition to her multi-platinum music career, she also hosts a cooking show, “Trisha’s Southern Cooking”, that debuted on the Food Network earlier this year.
The “Southern Hospitality” rapper graduated with honors from Georgia State University with a degree in business. In addition to seven studio albums that have sold a combined total of more than 10 million units, the rapper (real name Christopher Bridges) also launched Karma’s World, a kid-friendly informational website.
Mr. Paisley is one of country music’s biggest heartthrobs. But back in the early 90’s, he was just another business administration major at Belmont University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995, and followed up with studies at the Mike Curb School of Music Business. In 2003, Mr. Paisley received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Belmont. Earlier this year, the Grammy Award-winner established an endowed scholarship at his former school.
He has produced singles for TI, Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown, and released five solo studio albums (with his sixth, “MTA3: The Trinity Movement”, due out later this year). But David Banner (real name Lavell Krump) got his start at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. While attending Southern, Mr. Banner/Krump also served as president of that school’s Student Government Association.
Maybe you haven’t heard of him, but Mr. Goldman is one of the best-selling French pop stars of all time. This Grammy-winning singer and songwriter has collaborated with Celine Dion, Joe Cocker and Chet Baker, to name a few. But before all that, he attended one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools, the École Des Hautes Études Commerciales, where he earned a degree from the Lille Higher School of Business.
Keith Edward Elam (aka Guru) was one of the heavyweights of 80’s and 90’s hip-hop, thanks to his vocal stylings with the group, Gang Starr. But before he was a rapper, Mr. Elam was a business major at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1983. He went on to take graduate classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, but eventually dropped out. Mr. Elam passed away in 2010.
OK, so he is best known for acting and directing. But the Oscar-winner is also known as the eponymous frontman of Kevin Costner & The Old West, a country outfit that has released three studio albums – the most successful of which, “Untold Truths”, peaked at #35 on the national charts. But before Mr. Costner was a famous actor/musician, he was a student at Southern California University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance in 1978.
You think rockers aren’t educated? Tell that to these brainiacs-turned-business graduates. If anything, this list proves one thing: just because you earn a degree in one field doesn’t mean you won’t find success in another. Long live the dream. Rock!