News + Events

Makin' Music Turns 40

Henderson, Tenn. - Apr 06, 2017

It’s Makin’ Music time! April 7-8, 2017, Freed-Hardeman University will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Makin’ Music and its decades of harmonies that have forged relationships and created enduring memories.

Makin’ Music consists of unique shows created by each student-run social club on FHU’s campus. Six student hosts and hostesses perform between the club shows, accompanied by the school’s show band. Tickets may be purchased in advance at, and all guests are invited to a party between the performances from 5:00pm to 6:30pm on Bader Green.

Whether as hosts, cast members or staff, many alumni have shared Makin’ Music traditions with generations of their own families. “Makin’ Music has been part of our family for 19 years; my whole family always has been supportive, and my kids dreamed about being on that stage,” shared Peggy Weaver, director of the hosts and hostesses. Each member of the Weaver family has served as a host or hostess — Peggy, her husband, Steve, and their now adult children, Glenn and Rachael.

For Weaver, harmony means so many things. “It can mean working together. It takes so many different people, and we all have one goal. We work together in harmony to make this all work. And then it can mean harmony, as in music. It’s just beautiful to my ears, all of the music that we make,” she said.

FHU alumnus and advancement officer David Newberry was one of the first student coordinators of Makin’ Music. “The fact that we pulled it off was the main thing,” he said. “We made it a springboard for the next group to take and make into something more.” From the costumes to the music, the show has evolved over time. Makin’ Music in 1978 was definitely different from today’s show. In all, 14 mini-shows were performed with songs sung by the first hosts and hostesses between each act. Other than a lone piano to accompany the hosts and hostesses, there were no instruments; the clubs, dorms and classes all sang a cappella. The winner that year was the senior class, performing a show titled, “I’ve Been Working in the Coal Mines.” It was the only show with a storyline, which still influences today’s social clubs to use a central storyline in their performances. 

Makin’ Music’s first band director, Steve Browning, arranged the music and directed the show during his college years. He also returned to his alma mater and is now the show’s music director. “It’s about the students. Since the beginning, it’s supposed to have been all about the them. I’m one of the few adults involved in the show; the students do everything else. To me, that’s one of the biggest things we need to try to preserve,” Browning said.

Makin’ Music generates a spirit of unity that has attracted and connected people who are miles away from FHU, and it is a good source of outreach for potential students. Kandy Shackleford was one of Makin’ Music’s early hostesses, and she hailed from Michigan. The relationships she made during the show made her feel at home, and she is one of the many alumni who will be traveling to campus to both perform in and see the show. While thinking back to what Makin’ Music has meant to her, she said, “It was everything, and it made me feel immediately like I was a part of the Freed-Hardeman family. I wasn’t from the South, so I was different…and they embraced me.”

As the show has grown in participants, others have felt this way, as well. The opportunity they have to be a part of “something greater” is due to those who worked in harmony before them. This year, memories and friendships are being created once more. Two students currently leaving their mark on this program are Cody Nicholson and Lanae Hodnett, Makin’ Music’s student coordinators for the 40th anniversary. As coordinators, they work with the show’s producer Tony Allen, the hosts and hostesses, the clubs and directors, managers, staff members — everyone involved in the show. This job involves organization and passion for the show.

Although they are now coordinators, they have been involved with Makin’ Music since they were freshmen and have been cast members and club directors. Like those before them, Nicholson and Hodnett recognize how this program is changing them for the better. “I feel as if Makin' Music has caused me to mature overall as a person,” Nicholson said. “Throughout my time of participating in this production, I have learned communication, time management and conflict-resolution skills. All of these skills have helped me become the person I am today.”

Hodnett added,  “Makin’ Music reinforces friendships I already have and helps me grow new ones. It takes qualities I have and turns them into strong attributes.” This year people from the first Makin’ Music and students who have never experienced it before will all be on stage together – in what is expected to be Makin’ Music’s biggest year. “We knew it would grow, but we had no idea that it would grow into what it is now,” Newberry said. The whole week of shows, the hundreds of people involved, and the great crowds that come to watch it. We had no idea.”

The first Makin’ Music program in 1978 reads, “Music reflects the hopes, dreams, moods, and emotions of people. Makin’ Music seeks to do that tonight for you, the parents, alumni, and friends of Freed-Hardeman College. Involvement … participation … cooperation … work … these are the keys that unlock the door to Makin Music.”