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IOWA Magazine | 06-23-2022

In the Groove: Meet Five Iowa Grads in the Music Industry

From a festival founder to a hip-hop tastemaker, Hawkeye alumni share the liner notes to their remarkable careers.

Put the needle on the record. Crank the amp. Stream that digital station. Press “play.”

Humans are hardwired to love music, any way they choose it. Melodies light up listeners’ brains, releasing a “feel-good” chemical and unlocking visceral memories and emotions.

No one understands this better than a group of University of Iowa-educated insiders—agents, culture shapers, and artists—whose own musical epiphanies, in college and beyond, inspired them to forge new ground in a global industry.

Collectively, these graduates have shaped everything from the groovy ’70s and hard-grinding grunge to the indie-folk scene and Black music’s diverse genres.

At a time when tunes have been a balm for the world’s collective soul—and concerts and summer festivals finally are back at full volume—these Hawkeyes are telling their stories and bringing the beat to life.


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This classically trained cellist and Iowa City native once grappled with stage fright as a UI student. Learn how Sam Rae found her footing on stage as a touring musician with Grammy Award-winner Brandi Carlile before launching her own alt-folk solo career.


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