Music Major Earns Honor, Cash Award

March 23, 2017 at 10:28 am

Don’t tell University of South Carolina Upstate sophomore Mary Norris that music doesn’t pay – she’s got a thousand dollars to prove you wrong.

Norris, a commercial-music major, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Robert Fountain Memorial Honorarium for outstanding undergraduate or graduate student in music performance. The award, which includes a $1,000 cash prize, is presented annually by the Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization (MACRO) at the University of Wisconsin.

Watch a video of Norris performing.

“I haven’t really gotten a lot of awards like that before, so it was kind of exciting just to win something,” Norris said. “A lot of people will discourage you from studying (music) because they say you can’t make a living from it, but (the award) definitely encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing, and keep following my passions, and eventually get my master’s.”

The prizemoney will come in handy, Norris said. The Fountain Honorarium specifies that the $1,000 is to be used for “tuition, music and/or instruments,” and Norris, a guitarist who is on the singer/songwriter track at USC Upstate, said she needs a new amplifier.

“I’ve already done a little window shopping, but I haven’t picked one specifically,” she said.

In announcing the award, the Fountain Honorarium noted Norris’ “tremendous leadership skills” as she “singlehandedly organized a concert of three student bands and two university ensembles to perform for the university student body in front of the dorm for which she is a resident assistant.”

In a congratulatory email, Dr. Jamie Henke, the MACRO chair at the University of Wisconsin, praised Norris for a “combination of talents ranging from performance to composition,” and went on to say that “to be involved and leading so many different things while earning a perfect grade point (average) at such a young age shows a level of leadership and determination that we love to support.”

As Henke noted in her email, Norris is busy. She recently released The Man on the Moon, an EP of six original songs; it is available for download from a number of outlets, including Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play and Amazon.

“There’s not one overall theme, but it is kind of like an Americana folk-based album, so some of the themes range from loss to grief to longing,” Norris said of the EP. “Some of them I wrote when I was 15, and some of them I’ve written in the past few years.”

According to its website, “The Macro Analysis Creative Research Organization (MACRO) is a nonprofit organization for all musicians. The primary goal of MACRO is to promote musical understanding through a practical synthesis of analysis, pedagogy, performance, composition, and informed listening. Macro analysis is used as the springboard to facilitate this synthesis.”

Norris was nominated by USC Upstate faculty member Dr. Nolan Stolz, an assistant professor of music and the coordinator of the Commercial Music Department.