Music ‘Superstar’ Headlines Homecoming Festivities

Dan Gardner
Dan Gardner

Dan Gardner, a 1993 graduate of EMU and winner of NBC Television’s Today Show “Today’s Superstar” competition, will return to his alma mater to give two concerts during fall homecoming weekend.

Gardner will perform a wide variety of popular music, including original compositions, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 8 – 9, in Lehman Auditorium, and be available to sign CDs after each show. The EMU Chamber Singers will join him on some selections.

A resident of Atlanta, Ga., where he taught private voice lessons and at a music school before becoming a full-time recording artist, Gardner received the top award on the Nov. 21, 2002 broadcast of the program in New York City. The process included being chosen from among 4,000 audition tapes, performing as one of six finalists and taking part in three weeks of performances. More than 700,000 votes were submitted on-line throughout the contest.

Born in New York City, the liberal arts major was raised in Goshen, Ind., the youngest of five siblings. At EMU, he was a voice student of music professor Kenneth Nafziger and a member of the Chamber Singers, which Dr. Nafziger directs.

“Dan is a remarkable person,” noted Dr. Nafziger. “He came to EMU knowing what he wanted to do and never wavered from those intentions. I had never worked for an extended period of time with a singer who wanted to do pop music, so working with him was a real education for me,” he added.

Nafziger noted the “intensity” with which Gardner could communicate a song, whether to an audience of one in a music lesson or to an audience of many – as in his senior recital which packed out Lehman Auditorium.

As Today’s Superstar, Gardner was featured in a live outdoor concert in December 2002 outside NBC’s Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza and was awarded a recording session with Warner Brothers Records.

Gardner now has a production company (DG Productions) and a Web site He still lives in Atlanta, but travels frequently to New York and Los Angeles and gives concerts around the country. He has appeared on national radio, on national television at a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial event and at the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

His debut album, “More Than Life,” features many songs written or co-written by Gardner. As vocalist, songwriter, performer and producer, Gardner mixes elements of pop, blues, jazz and rock in this varied collection of ballads, high energy and mid-tempo tunes. His first single off the album, “More Than Life,” climbed to No. 12 on the adult contemporary radio charts.

Admission prices vary. Persons are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by calling the EMU box office, (540) 432-4582. Tickets will also be on sale at the door.