#MNPSVoices: Cedric Caldwell, Recording Industry Teacher
After spending years surrounded by some of the biggest names in music like Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston, Grammy-Award winning producer and composer, Cedric Caldwell decided to step away from the spotlight to help develop Metro Nashville Public Schools’ next generation of musicians.
After traveling the world as music director for gospel legends, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Caldwell moved back home to Nashville and opened his own recording studio. In 2010, the studio was destroyed in the Nashville flood and Caldwell turned to teaching while it was being rebuilt. This led him to Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School.
“Honestly, at the time, I was looking for something to just pass the time, but something happened that I did not anticipate,” Caldwell said. “I fell in love with the students and was inspired by their thirst for knowledge, I knew I had found my calling.”
Caldwell now runs Relentless Entertainment Group – the nation’s first student-run record label tied to a major label. In 2013, Warner Music Nashville partnered with Pearl-Cohn to open a state-of-the-art recording studio that rivals any one might find on historic Music Row.
“We wanted to give students the opportunity to create music from beginning to end,” Caldwell said. “The program not only teaches students how to produce and record music, it teaches them how to find their voice and market themselves.”
Caldwell has worked on many legendary projects over the past 30 years, such as Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard Soundtrack.” However, one of his favorite projects involves a group of MNPS students who he refers to as the ‘Fab 5.’
Within days of the tragic events in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, Caldwell hand-picked five students from three different high schools in Nashville to record a rendition of BeBe Winans’ “Right Now (We Need One Another).” The song was shared with students in Charlottesville and started a beautiful journey still reverberating across the country.
“There are many events I have been honored to be a part of over the course of my life,” Caldwell said. “None of them come remotely close to the pure and raw truth I witnessed when we were invited to Charlottesville last September to re-record the song with the students there and to perform in front of the wall where loss of life occurred.”
Recently those Charlottsville students traveled to Nashville to lend their voices to re-record “Shine (3 School Districts…One Voice).” The effort supports students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who recently experienced their own unspeakable tragedy.
“To some, this might appear to be just a group of kids singing a song in front of a cracked wall,” Caldwell said. “But if you look closely, you will find beauty in those cracks. If you look even harder you will see what I see, and that is hope.”