The College of the Arts is excited to welcome Zac Brown Band guitarist and School of Music alumnus Coy Bowles (B.M. ’04) as the guest speaker for our master’s commencement ceremony. Before we introduce him to our master’s graduates, their family and friends, here are five things you need to know:
1. He’s a fellow Panther!
Bowles earned a Bachelor of Music in the Jazz Studies Program from Georgia State. Originally a biology major at West Georgia College, where he met Zac Brown, he shifted gears just before graduating. Realizing he was a musician to his core, Bowles took a gap year, practiced eight hours a day and took private lessons to prepare for his School of Music audition.
Extra Credit: Those guitar lessons? Bowles studied intensely with School of Music’s very own instructor of jazz studies, David Frackenpohl.
2. He’s a three-time GRAMMY winner.
As a member of Zac Brown Band, Bowles has seen the band win three GRAMMY awards out of 9 nominations. The band won Best New Artist in 2010, followed quickly by Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 2011 and Best Country Album in 2013.
Extra Credit: Bowles has writing credits on multiple Zac Brown Band albums, but over the years, three co-written singles have risen to #1 on the charts. He lent his writing chops to “Knee Deep” and “Colder Weather” from the 2010 album You Get What You Give, and “Sweet Annie” from 2012’s Uncaged.
3. He knows his way around Atlanta’s music scene.
During his time as a Panther, Bowles says he immersed himself into every music scene he could sniff out in Atlanta. In and out of singer-songwriter, jazz, blues and rock scenes, Bowles says, “I had to be in the mix. I found my home at the famous Atlanta blues bar, Northside Tavern, where I found my roots in music and met some of my biggest influences, such as Donnie McCormick, Oliver Wood and Sean Costello.”
4. He started his own band after he graduated.
Fusing the genres he learned while at Georgia State, his band, Coy Bowles and The Fellowship, formed in 2004 and released their first album, Into The Distance in 2006. He says “I really wanted to compose music that the listeners could connect to, music which possessed a distinct and completely original sound, while still giving a ‘hat-nod’ to my musical heroes.” When not on tour with Zac Brown Band, Coy Bowles and The Fellowship still play in the Atlanta area.
5. He’s written four children’s books.
Bowles released his first children’s book, “Amy Giggles, Laugh Out Loud” in 2012. He followed it in 2016 with “Will Powers: Where There’s a Will There’s A Way,” in 2017 with “When You’re Feeling Sick” and most recently in 2018 with “Behind the Little Red Door,” a partnership to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Georgia Pre-K program.
Extra Credit: Bowles also wrote an introduction plus multiple short stories included in the “Southern Ground Cookbook,” by frontman Zac Brown.
Still want to know more? Check out this clip from “Off The Record,” part of a series showcasing what makes each Zac Brown Band member unique.
The College of the Arts Master’s Commencement Ceremony will take place on Friday, May 10th at 2 p.m. in Student Center East at Georgia State University.