I graduated from Missouri State University (it was Southwest Missouri State University then) in '91. (Yes, that seems like a lifetime ago.) The only reason I was able to go to university was through a full-ride scholarship, a few others and grants. I was raised by my grandparents a good part of my youth, and they had no way to pay for school. So, I just knew I needed to get good grades and work hard.
Young women were being recruited for universities, but there certainly wasn't any push for women to become CEOs or build empires. I was only 17 when I graduated high school. I really wanted to become an astronaut. Truth.
However, through a series of crazy events music had become a part of my life at age 14 and I had a few guys who saw something in me that gave me a shot in sitting behind a sound board, so I was traveling while going to high school and then to the university.
The head of the Marketing Department at Missouri State was Dr. Robin Luke. I had no clue who he was other than the head of the department that I was becoming interested in. I knew I liked business, and loved market statistics and research and writing. But, what was that going to do for me? I was a "soundman". lol
What I didn't know was that Dr. Luke was a 50s rock star. Like, he had the 1958 rock song "Susie Darlin'" that stayed on the charts for over a year.
I don't recall how, but my student advisor got with him and I ended up in a class with him. The first day of class, with only about 20 students, he asked us what we wanted to be in life. All I remember saying was I was in music and had cats. (I had two cats, and never again.) lol!
He looked right at me, just meeting me and said, "You could be a great A&R Rep." I looked up at him, smiled and said, "Yeah!" Now, I had zero clue what that was, but was too embarrassed to tell him. After all, I was already working in music, and should have known what that was! There was no way to google then (remember I'm old) but, I ran to the library to look up what that meant. First I had to figure out what the acronym stood for!
Dr. Luke then gave me a book to do my semester paper on that started me on a journey through studying a form of marketing strategy that has helped to define how I approach my work today. (That's for another post. 😉)
He sparked something in me that I didn't even start to realize until almost 20 years later, after years of preparation in a business that I didn't even know I was being given a shot in - by even more key people who saw something in me.
Dr. Luke had appeared on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" 13 times, and is in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. But, he chose to use that experience and go into a life of teaching, and developing the Marketing Department of Missouri State in Springfield, MO. The town just 20 miles away from my grandparents who raised me.
Thank you Dr. Luke for seeing something in that few minutes in a girl who had some talent in music, but zero clue what to. And, that few minutes spoke words into me I didn't even know affected me until just lately. With the thousands you have inspired, you probably don't even remember me. But, you used a career in music to teach and inspire.
I am now careful what I speak into young people. And, I devote my time to encourage others. I can only hope I am doing the same as you have. Thank you, Dr. Luke.
A video of Dr. Luke talking about his career and songs.
What is A&R? Click on the photo below.