Nashville Foundation makes music happen at Honolulu Community College

Honolulu Community College
Martha Hanson, (808) 956-3716
Associate VP for Communication and Donor Relations, University of Hawaii Foundation
Posted: Dec 18, 2009

HONOLULU - The Mike Curb Family Foundation recently made a gift of $250,000 through the University of Hawai‘i Foundation (UHF) to support the transformation of Honolulu Community College’s existing classrooms into state-of-the-art professional recording studios for the Music and Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE) program. In recognition of their gift, Honolulu Community College (HCC) will rename the MELE studios and classrooms the "Mike Curb Music and Entertainment Learning Experience Studios" (Curb MELE Studios).
In 2007, HCC established a partnership with Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business to create a new program, Music and Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE), to foster and promote the business and profession of music in Hawai‘i.
“We are excited about the academic affiliation between the University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu Community College and the Curb College at Belmont University in Nashville. We are proud to be able to participate in the development of these new studios as a laboratory for the students and further development of the MELE program,” said Mike Curb.
“Because of our local music industry’s value to Hawai‘i and the critical need to develop the production and business skills of talented, local musicians, we were happy at the University of Hawai‘i Foundation to introduce the Curb Family Foundation to HCC’s MELE program,” said UHF President and CEO Donna Vuchinich.
MELE students develop artistic creativity, technical production skills, and entertainment business expertise. As part of the MELE program, through matriculation to Belmont’s Curb College in Nashville, Tennessee, MELE students can pursue a bachelor's degree in music business, audio engineering, entertainment industry studies or songwriting, accessing such Belmont alumni as Josh Turner, Brad Paisley and songwriter Ashley Gorley.
“MELE is an innovative program that brings state-of-the-art music industry crafts and skills to Hawai‘i to enrich creativity and generate music with local roots, produced at a high level of professional skill, and capable of earning a place in the global 21st-century music business,” said Honolulu Community College Chancellor Michael T. Rota.
The vision for MELE came from noted author and Hawai‘i historian, Gavan Daws, and Jim Ed Norman, former head of Warner Bros. Records in Nashville and current Big Island resident. Together they worked with then-Chancellor Ramsey Pedersen of HCC and MELE Program Director Keala Chock to form a partnership with the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University.
Launched with funds from a federal grant, a program start-up budget from the Hawai‘i State Legislature, and a grant from the State of Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the MELE program began in fall 2007. In spring 2008, the UH Board of Regents approved two associate degree programs: music business emphasis and audio engineering technology at Honolulu Community College. For more information, go to
"We have a lot of raw musical talent in Hawai‘i, and the MELE program will help develop the infrastructure needed to support entertainers and musicians in their careers," said Chock. “MELE aims to bring best practices here, for the benefit of the local music industry overall, and to help generate high-quality music with a Hawai‘i ‘brand’ that can build a presence in the global music business.”
The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. Our mission is to unite our donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations to benefit the people of Hawai‘i and beyond. We do this by raising private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships. Please visit