By Julie Copenhaver
Photos by Taylor Lord
Waco Hall was oddly dark for a Thursday afternoon, but off in the faint distance a flutter of alumni activity creaked across the stage. A lone spotlight illuminated dozens of cables, cameras, and tripods, and a tattered American flag hung from the rafters. This was Holly Tucker’s promotional photo shoot.
In a world of fifteen-second YouTube fame and here-today, gone-tomorrow reality TV shows, capitalizing on talent and fame can be a challenge. But one of the greatest assets Tucker has in her corner, besides her incredible voice, is the determination and passion of Baylor alumni Jenne Blackburn, Anthony Carrillo, Taylor Lord, and Lindley Atkinson.
Last spring, Baylor Bears everywhere fell in love with Baylor sophomore Holly Tucker as she stepped out onto the national stage of “The Voice,” the highly rated NBC singing competition. Fans watched her belt out more than seven songs as she made it through eight out of ten rounds on Season 4. But even after a grueling schedule, the adventure of a lifetime, newfound fame, and an army of fans, Tucker knows that the real work begins back in Waco.
Jenne Blackburn ’09, a social media and branding consultant, immediately recognized Tucker’s marketing potential. “I saw Holly on ‘The Voice’ and followed her on Twitter, and said to myself, ‘Her current brand does not represent the young country star that she is,’” Blackburn said. Owner of Branding and Consulting by Jenne, Blackburn has a talent for helping people achieve success and understands the difficulty of juggling a person’s natural talent with packaging and promotion. “Each person is incredible and unique,” said Blackburn. “Individual brand and voice is so important in this digital age. The objective was to help convey what makes Holly different and unique to a national audience.”
Tucker was a seasoned performer before her appearance on “The Voice,” playing the saxophone in the Baylor band, singing at Waco festivals and celebrations, and even collaborating on her first full-length country album with Chris Wommack in 2007. But the fame associated with a national TV show skyrocketed Tucker to the next level.
“The Tuckers understood the importance of promoting Holly’s talents and success from ‘The Voice,’” said Blackburn. For a burgeoning musician, it can be difficult to meet the heavy demands of Hollywood and Nashville, so the Tuckers hired Blackburn to create a website for the rising star. “Holly had been wanting desperately to remodel her website for close to two years,” said Johnny Tucker, Holly’s father. “Jenne saw the website and realized that she and Anthony could be the catalyst for improvement.”
Blackburn was thrilled at the chance to help a fellow Bear reach for the stars. “I felt this was an opportunity to help Holly explore the next level. Her future is Nashville, so let’s get her ready with the resources that are available,” Blackburn explained.
Blackburn and industry partner Anthony Carrillo ’09 started conceptualizing ideas for Tucker’s new site. In addition to incorporating basic functionality and fan engagement, Blackburn and Carrillo wanted the site to mirror Tucker’s passion and drive. “We wanted to tell her story—a behind-the-scenes look at Holly before she goes on to great things,” said Blackburn.
In July, Blackburn organized a full photo and video shoot in Waco for Tucker’s promotional package. With two Baylor Bears already on board, Blackburn saw the opportunity to utilize the talents of former classmates Taylor Lord ’10 and Lindley Atkinson ’10. “I love using creative juices and bringing our friends alongside,” said Blackburn. Lord, a wedding photographer based out of Austin, and Atkinson, a Texas cinematographer and owner of Unwritten Pictures, were the perfect blend of green-and-gold creativity.
“It’s all about helping other Bears,” said Lord. “We want to make sure Holly feels like she has a really good start.” As lead photographer for the promotional shoot, Lord meticulously fine-tuned props, lighting, and backdrops, capturing images and moments unique to Tucker’s personality. “We’re trying to tell a story: Holly waiting in the wings before it happens,” said Lord. “She’s going to be a huge success.”
To accompany dozens of photos, a behind-the-scenes video was filmed to capture the energy and excitement of Holly’s new beginning. “We’re Bears backing Bears,” said Atkinson, lead cinematographer for the project. “Holly is one of the many talented young Bears who has a bright future ahead of her and is getting started in her pursuit early. It’s great getting to work with Baylor alumni who are excellent in their professional fields at such an early age.”
Throughout the long summer day in July, the Baylor alumni crew, accompanied by a handful of interns, shot stills and video in Waco Hall, the concrete alleys of downtown Waco, and the fields in McLennan County. With each location, magic moments were captured as Tucker’s project transcended shutter sounds and memory cards. “Being out there with the horses and running around with the flag and my guitar — I really came into my confidence,” said Holly Tucker. “I felt like a real, true music star.”
Now, armed with valuable promotional materials to go hand-in-hand with her incredible talent, Tucker recently published her new website and brand. Striking photos and a captivatingly exclusive video lure fans in for a sublime look at this Waco superstar. “For so long, I had a website that really didn’t look professional and made me self-conscious about it,” Holly said. “The whole experience with the promotion of the website really helped me to look at myself as more of a professional and come into my own.”