category: Campus News

Carson-Newman music training opened doors for Constance Mack

Constance Mack (center) with her parents Wayne and Michelle Mack.

by Kimary Clelland, courtesy of The Standard Banner

(Jan. 5, 2017) – Constance Mack is an international rising star.

She reached new heights after she graduated from the Carson-Newman University music program in 2009, winning an international singing competition called “Operation Rising Star” – the best picks for military singers and their families.

Mack joined the National Guard after she graduated. Her service connection allowed her to compete for the worldwide military singing competition, similar to “American Idol.”

This was a tremendous accomplishment for Mack, who utilized everything she learned in the music program. She was the first of five children in her family to attend college.

“When I found out that Carson-Newman had a scholarship program for music majors, I decided to go to the required audition,” recalls the enthusiastic Mack. “I remember it like it was just yesterday. My whole family piled in the car for the road trip from our home in Stone Mountain, Georgia, to go to Jefferson City for the audition.

Her parents, Wayne and Michelle Mack, founded their own church near Atlanta, Georgia they call Grace Place Church of God by Faith, where their daughter, now 30, grew up singing in the church beginning in the 1990’s.

Mack knew she had singing skills, but wanted to major in sports journalism. However, the scholarship offered by the music department at Carson-Newman changed her plans, and her future.

The soprano says she had numerous outstanding, encouraging teachers at Carson-Newman, including Angela Holder and Eric Thorson. She was part of Thorson’s A Capella choir and had the unique opportunity to tour the Holy Land with the choir during her years at C-N.

“I am eternally grateful for the Holy Land tour,” comments Mack. “I only had the chance to go because of a generous anonymous donation.”

While she was in the music program, First Baptist Church of Jefferson City decided to try adding a contemporary ensemble for a new service at the church. Music Minister Kim Bowen, who ultimately became her “trusted mentor,” tapped the talent at Carson-Newman for participants.

“I remember going to the music department 10 years ago and asking Eric Thorson if he had one soprano and one alto who might be interested in an audition for the contemporary group,” comments Bowen. “Connie’s audition lasted about five minutes and she sang for the contemporary service at First Baptist Church for three years. She’s like a daughter to me. Both Connie and Whitney Wilhite (the alto singer) taught me so much about contemporary music and are good enough to sing professionally.”

Mack returned to her “other church family” at First Baptist Church to sing for their tenth anniversary of the contemporary ensemble just a few weeks ago. There wasn’t a dry eye in the sanctuary when she finished the service with her signature song, “Mercy Saw Me.”

While she worked for the National Guard as a Chinese linguist with the Defense Language Institute in California, the singer sought out a worship team in Monterey, California. This exposure led her to compete in the local military installation “Operation Rising Star” contest – the first cut before going on to the international level.

She won the opportunity for a professional recording with The Sound Kitchen, a prestigious Nashville recording studio. This studio was the beginning for successful careers of well known artists such as Keith Urban and Bruce Springsteen.

Mack was also contacted by Black Entertainment TV and became a featured singer on a show called “Sunday’s Best.” She had the privilege of meeting gospel legends Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Kim Burrell, and Kierra Sheard.

After living in many states as part of her National Guard jobs, Mack recently returned to the metro Atlanta area where she serves as the Music Minister for her parents’ church, and sings with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

The professional singer has also developed relationships with the entertainment coordinators for the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Hawks. Numerous fans watch Mack on the “Jumbotron” when she sings the national anthem and entertains at halftime shows.

As in past years, Mack says she “will use every opportunity to use my gift of music. I have been blessed.”

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