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McNally Smith Takes Over SXSW

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McNally Smith is immersing its students in the music industry through performances, event planning, collaborative marketing, and outreach focused the biggest music and interactive media event in the world — South by Southwest (SXSW).

Select high schools will be visited by the McNally Smith Road Trip: SXSW Tour between March 9 and 23. More schools will be added in the weeks ahead, leading up to the massive music showcase that attracts hundreds of performers, industry leaders, and a crowd of tens of thousands.

The touring artists include two current McNally Smith students and one alumnus — singer-songwriter Kara Laudon, electric violinist David Sutton, and multi-disciplinary hip-hop artist Danami. The trio will be making stops at schools along the way to perform for large and small groups of students. They will also engage in conversation with high school students about making a life in music.


  • Kara Laudon: A singer/songwriter who performs original acoustic pop songs, accompanying herself on guitar, piano and ukulele. With honest, relatable lyrics and thoughtful melodies, Kara’s voice is sweet and pure, creating simple yet engaging songs. Her first EP, “Worth Fighting For” was released in January of 2011.  She has played at venues including The Fine Line and Corner Coffee.  Kara’s goal is to write songs that people can relate to and connect with. She hopes to inspire people through her music.  Kara is currently in her third year at McNally Smith.
  • David Gerald Sutton: Also performing under the name Electric String Quartet, David plays original alternative violin music with live recording techniques to create an electro-cinematic rock sound unlike any other. With his band, he is currently finishing work on a debut concept album exploring the experience of Alzheimer’s victims, written for his grandmother. The album, The Vertical Horizon, will be released in April of 2012. David is currently in his third year at McNally Smith.
  • Danami (Detroit, MI): A multidisciplinary artist, who strives to represent the finest qualities of the Motown tradition, but is a Hip-Hop artist first & foremost. His personal lyric-driven style has been compared to iconic hip-hop artists such as Nas and Lupe Fiasco. An active presence in the fiercely independent Minneapolis hip-hop scene, Danami inspires and motivates through speeches, music, panels, and mentorship. In 2011, Danami graduated from McNally Smith College of Music with a B.A. in Music Business. He is working on his second CD, Delayed Gratification, scheduled for release in 2012.


Eleven McNally Smith Music Business led the planning, organization, and promotion of the Rock the Cause Day Party, to be held at the Liberty Bar in downtown Austin on March 17 from noon to 8 p.m. McNally Smith road trippers Kara Laudon, David Sutton, and Danami, will perform from noon to 1 p.m. Rhymesayers artist and McNally Smith Hip-Hop Studies Program Coordinator Toki Wright will also perform. The event is supported by 89.3 The Current, MPLS.TV, and MFR , with free beer via Lone Star, Summit and complimentary food from East Side King.

Full line-up for the Rock the Cause Day Party:

  • Astronautalis
  • Peter Wolf Crier
  • Night Moves
  • Zoo Animal
  • Fort Wilson Riot
  • The Honeydogs
  • Pink Mink
  • Toki Wright

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #McNallySXSW, and RSVP online at


David Lewis, Director of Career Services at McNally Smith, will join industry peers from Columbia College, Pitchfork and Fontys Academy for Creative Industries on an engaging SXSW panel, Thursday, March 15, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. to discuss music industry higher education at the Austin Convention Center. Lewis founded the PR company Riot Act Media, handling public relations for a slew of indie artists including Minus The Bear, Maps & Atlases, and David Bazan. In 2008, David moved into higher education and has since been featured on All Things Considered, PBS, Time Out Chicago, and New City, discussing the virtues of arts and music careers.

The panel will look at schools across the United States that provide training and formal degrees in music business. These programs have recruited top industry professionals to teach, facing the challenge of helping steer the future of the music industry while providing an environment where students can succeed in a competitive and changing field. These leading experts and academics will assess the state of music education and the music business.

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #sxsw #musicedu.