In 1996, Ross Copperman was a 14-year-old about to start his freshman year at Glenvar High School. At the time, the Roanoke County native spent many hours outside of the classroom playing the piano and writing songs. That continued throughout his undergraduate years at James Madison University.
By 2015, Copperman was a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and producer. He had written Brett Eldredge’s “Lose My Mind,” Jake Owen’s “America Country Love Song,” and Luke Bryan’s “Strip It Down” among many other Billboard Hot 100 singles.
On Friday, January 18, Copperman returned to Glenvar High for the ribbon cutting of the school’s new sound recording studio.
“I truly believe the next hit songwriter, hit producer, hit artist could be one of the kids that gets to explore this studio and find a talent they didn’t know they had,” Copperman said. “Today is one of the most important days of my life. To be able to give back to Glenvar High, the school I went to is awesome. I’m passionate about giving kids an opportunity to learn how to make music.”
One of the students that heard Copperman speak was senior Adelia Mau. A self-described “lifelong singer,” Mau wants to write songs for a living.
“I’ve always been into music. I grew up listening to many genres, everything from hip hop to country,” she said. “Having this recording studio is a tremendous resource that I certainly plan on taking advantage of.”
Mau continued, “Several students, including myself, came in for three days over the Christmas break to paint walls, run cables, set up furniture and learn how the equipment operates. We collectively decided to call the room ‘The Thunderdome.’”
Glenvar High Theatre Arts Director Steve Franco, a former teacher of Copperman, applied for a grant from the Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives program last year. He ultimately was awarded $10,000.
“After that, Ross enlisted the help of ten-time Grammy-winning producer F. Reid Shippen, Project Manager Alena Moran, Sound Specialist Michael Mechling and DJ Lipscomb, a videographer,” Franco, the school’s Recording Studio Director too, said. “Ross, Reid and Alena used their many connections to solicit donations and reduced pricing from friends in the business to help us get more equipment.”
Country music star Keith Urban donated three used guitars to the recording studio.
While speaking to the students, Shippen emphasized the importance of working hard to reach your dreams.
“This studio has practically the same equipment that I use to create music. The only thing separating high school students from what I do is effort and experience,” he said. “Nothing is stopping you from reaching all of your goals and dreams.”
Glenvar High Band Director Zac Sweeney is ecstatic at the opportunities the recording sound studio will offer his students.
“They will be exposed to technologies that are on a professional level and can learn to pursue their musical passions in production and editing in a way they likely wouldn’t have experienced until college or their professional career,” Sweeney said. “In many respects, these kids are the smartest, toughest generation that has ever had to live. I can’t wait to see what they do.”