COLUMBIA — Don't bother busting out the cowboy boots. Although Jenn Schott became a country songwriter after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism, the song she co-wrote for the school's centennial hasn't got any twang to it.
"Coming Back Again" is mid-tempo and carries an inspirational, goose bumps-inviting feel, said Schott , a 1997 graduate.
In early 2007, Schott was asked by Suzette Heiman, director of the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial, to write a theme song for the celebration with adjunct professor and 1962 alumnus Jack Smith. Schott in Nashville and Smith in Columbia wrote the song together via e-mail.
"Jack and I wanted to create a song that captured both the pride that all J-School alumni have and also the happy memories we all have of our time at Mizzou," Schott said.
"Coming Back Again" premiers with a corresponding music video at the end of the centennial's opening ceremonies, which begin at 8 p.m. tonight in Mizzou Arena. The event, which includes "Freedom Sings," a multimedia musical presentation about the First Amendment, is free and open to the public.
Thom Baker of Baker HD Productions in Columbia produced the music video. The video is mostly still pictures but also includes short film clips of the past 100 years of the school. Baker, who also attended MU, said he's placed images in the video from as far back as the School of Journalism's opening in 1908 to as recent as last week.
Baker said that while producing the video, he aimed to "capture a feel of the camaraderie and uniqueness of going through the J-School because the song does (this) so well, and I wanted the video to do the same."
Heiman said alumni often tell her and others how much the School of Journalism means to them, so, "given the homecoming aspect of the centennial, it seemed natural to try to capture these heartfelt feelings and memories in a song," Heiman said.
Because she didn't take what she called "the traditional road" after leaving the School of Journalism, Schott was surprised when the road led her back. "It means so much to me to be able to contribute something back," she said.
Schott made her original pilgrimage to the School of Journalism from her hometown of Pittsburg, Kan., and changed her sequence plans from broadcast to advertising after discovering that she enjoyed the combination of business strategy and creativity that was involved in ad writing.
She spent three summers during college interning at her hometown radio station, where she said she fell in love with country music. After graduating, Schott trekked to Nashville. Although her intention there had been to land a job at a record label doing promotions or publicity, she took a position with a music publisher instead, which is how she was introduced to professional song writing.
"I saw how the writers came into the office every day to write, demo-ed their songs, and then got them recorded by artists, and I thought, ‘This is it, this is what I want to do,'" Schott said.
Three years later, she snagged her first paid publishing deal. She has spent the past eight years writing songs, and artists such as Rascal Flatts, Katie Armiger and Billy Ray Cyrus have recorded her songs.
Schott attributes the outcome of "Coming Back Again" to the MU School of Journalism's 100-year dedication to excellence. "You look at the long list of alumni and all of their amazing accomplishments — that is not by accident," Schott said. "All we did with this song is try to continue that tradition."