Published on February 16, 2021 by Ashley Smith  

James Taylor. Carole King. Phil Collins. Jackson Browne. LeAnn Rimes. Reba McEntire. Michael W. Smith. What do all these artists have in common? They all had records and tours with Leland Sklar on bass guitar.  

Students within Samford’s commercial music program had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Sklar virtually on Feb. 4 to be inspired, hear stories, and learn from this seasoned music professional. The private session lasted for over 90 minutes and included incredible stories of the history of how recordings such as “Sweet Baby James,” “Tapestry,” and “In the Air Tonight” were written, recorded, and are played year-after-year on the road.  

The director of Samford’s commercial music program, Steven Potaczek, arranged the small gathering as a part of the Music Business Revenue Streams course. “This course is one of many in our program that helps aspiring artists understand the way money is made within the music industry,” Potaczek said. “Ultimately, Samford’s commercial music program is not just about learning history and theoretical knowledge, but also real-world applications that will benefit students throughout their careers long after their school days are over.” 

“We will be bringing in big name artists and guests on a somewhat regular basis,” said Potaczek. Guests will include entertainment lawyers, booking agents, talent managers and others from the field.  Potaczek is a recording artist as well as assistant professor and brings in-depth industry knowledge and connections like Sklar.

Commercial music is a new major in the School of the Arts fostering entrepreneurial skills in music business, production, songwriting, live touring and performance. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.