Country duo Maddie and Tae take to the Benson stage Friday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye met at a showcase in Dallas, Texas and, in June 2014, signed with a Nashville label company where they released their first single “A Girl in a Country Song.”
“I first saw them as a featured guest on Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show.’ I tried to reach out to them then in 2015, but we could not figure out their touring schedule that would allow them to come here,” Logan Light, director of Campus Life, said.
Light said he kept Maddie & Tae on the back burner after scheduling did not work out. However, this summer when the duo released a new single under their new label, Maddie & Tae reached out to the Campus Activities Board (CAB) to see if they could schedule a concert on campus.
“We have been trying to get a country music artist to campus for a while to spread out the diversity for what CAB offers,” Light said.
According to Light, the CAB Concert Series has taken place for nearly two decades, starting when CAB was known as Student Activities Council. The council was a part of the same office as social clubs and Student Publications when campus was much smaller with fewer students.
Light said that when Cory Mcintyre was hired in the early 2000s, he was the one who made a footprint on managers and artists to get them here. Over the years, CAB and Harding University have made a name for themselves by the ultra professionalism that Light said he believes sets Harding apart from other venues.
The Benson is the largest auditorium in Arkansas, and bands can easily stop in Searcy on the way to Nashville or Dallas.
The process to bring artists here involves a middle booking agency, Student Life, CAB and the management of the particular artist, according to Light. The booking agency contacts Light if there is a group routing through to see if Harding would want to host them. Other times, smaller bands or artists directly contact Light.
Zach Neal, dean of students, said Light is contacted weekly, if not daily, by groups who want to perform on campus.
“Logan will get ideas from students, see what is trending or [receive] information from the booking agency, then pick the top two or three,” Neal said. “He brings those two or three choices to me. We discuss what will be the best option.”
Neal said he personally reads all the lyrics the artist has, which can be difficult depending on how popular the artist is. The artist’s manager has a list of needs for the contract, and CAB has addendums to include as well. The booking agency looks over both contracts and finds the middle ground. If both parties agree, the contracts are signed.
It is then up to Light and the CAB team to work on the marketing of the event, the day-of schedule and other smaller details. Senior Sydney Warren is one of the three directors of this year’s concert series team, which helps plan out each detail when artists come to campus.
“As for the directors, I have already helped in renting furniture for the day of the concert and helping with catering needs,” Warren said. “On the day of the concert, the directors will go get food items that the bands suggest to be in their dressing rooms, manage the needs of the band and make sure everything is going smoothly with the rest of the CAB workers.”
Maddie & Tae will be opened by Fairground Saints, a country music group with a folksy, blues style from Santa Barbara, California. Tickets are on sale at hardingtickets.com for $10 for students, $2 with a CAB pass, $20 for adults and $15 for faculty and staff.