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Teachers Recall Belew Before "The Voice"

Fans of the NBC television show “The Voice” know Arkansas Tech University alumnus Cody Belew as a focused performer who has advanced all the way to the top 12 of the singing competition. His choir director at Arkansas Tech, Gary Morris, remembers Belew for both his talent and his lighter side.

Editor's Note: Arkansas Tech University alumnus Cody Belew has reached the top 12 of the NBC television program "The Voice." Click here to read more about his progress on the show.

Fans of the NBC television show “The Voice” know Arkansas Tech University alumnus Cody Belew as a focused performer who has advanced all the way to the top 12 of the singing competition. 
 
His choir director at Arkansas Tech, Gary Morris, remembers Belew for both his talent and his lighter side.
 
“Cody was a jokester,” said Morris. “I remember one time we were going to perform in Little Rock, and he convinced everyone on the trip that his uncle trained the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. We called him out on it later, but he was always doing fun things like that.”
 
Belew caught Morris’ attention during a solo performance at all-state choir while Belew was a student at Beebe High School.
 
“We felt like Cody had a unique instrument,” said Morris. “I always felt like he would do well in whatever he chose to pursue.”

Belew earned a vocal scholarship to Arkansas Tech and performed with the Concert Chorale, Chamber Choir and the Music Theatre Workshop during his days as a student in Russellville.

He graduated from Arkansas Tech in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music.
 
Belew went on to perform at a variety of venues around the state of Arkansas before moving to Nashville, Tenn., to take his shot at stardom.
 
His break arrived earlier this year when Belew was invited to audition for “The Voice.”

A few short months later, more than 10 million viewers per week have watched Belew advance through four stages of competition to reach the top 12.

“I knew sooner or later that Cody would get his break,” said Morris. “He will get it through this no matter what happens from this point forward on the show. We’re very proud of him. He’s been performing for several years and waiting tables or whatever it took to make a living. There is some good competition on the show, but I think Cody is going to do very well. Not only does he have a great voice, he is a great entertainer. He knows how to work a crowd.”

Ken Futterer, associate professor of music at Arkansas Tech, co-directs the Arkansas Tech Music Theatre Workshop with fellow music faculty member Holly Ruth Gale. Belew has cited his involvement with that ensemble as one of his favorite memories of Arkansas Tech.

“Cody has always had a great voice and has always been a great showman, but as a young Tech student he didn’t know how to put the two together,” said Futterer. “That’s what we do with the Music Theatre Workshop. We take our students who sing great, might have had some acting experiences and blend those two talents on single songs.

“When someone has the kind of success Cody has achieved, the individual is responsible for it,” continued Futterer. “You have to work on yourself. What Cody is doing now is really professional level stuff.”

Belew’s voice teacher during his final two years at Arkansas Tech was Dr. Jon Clements, assistant professor of music. Belew was among Clements’ first students at Arkansas Tech when he joined the Tech faculty in 2005.

“One of the things I remember about Cody is that he was very driven even at that age,” said Clements. “He had a wide and eclectic taste in music. We would work mainly on classical literature and things like that, but at the same time I knew he was familiar with pop songs. It was fun to work with him. I saw him mature from someone with a great instrument into more of an artist. He started to really buy in to how you craft a song and how you can use your voice in different ways to express different vocal colors.

“Cody was driven to do this,” continued Clements. “I remember him sitting in my office and us having conversations about what he wanted to do. He wanted to be famous and to perform for a living. Cody had something about him that it was going to happen.”

Clements said that he has enjoyed watching Belew grow as a performer during his time as a contestant on “The Voice.” Clements also said that his two daughters, age 6 and 4, are big Belew fans.

“We may not have the depth of talent that exists at some of the largest music schools in the country, but our best students are as good as the best students anywhere,” said Clements. “It shows a lot that we, as a department, did not tell Cody that he could only perform classical music. We are very open-minded and foster different types of music.”

For more information about the study of music at Arkansas Tech University, visit www.atu.edu/music or call (479) 968-0368.

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