Graduate Reaches #2 on Amazon Music

Published: September 17, 2019 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Read Time: 3 minutes

ryan tilby picture with guitarSouthern Utah University is proud to congratulate graduate Ryan Tilby for his recent album, Hymns of the New World, being named the #2 hottest release in New Age music on

Tilby’s interest in music began when he was nine years old, after hearing his parent’s guitar teacher play the banjo. With the support of his parents, Tilby continued to explore his interest in music. By the time he was twelve years old, he was touring Europe, playing the banjo in a bluegrass band. 

“My life was never the same,” Tilby said. “ It was loud, shiny, fast, and I fell instantly in love. I loved it all, and never considered another way of living my life outside of music.”

Eventually, Tilby decided to complete his studies and earn his master’s degree. When the question of where arose, answers came easily. 

“Living in St. George, Utah, I have had a lot of professional interaction with SUU faculty and I’ve always loved their approach to their craft,” Tilby said. “When a friend told me about the Master of Music Technology program, it was too good to be true. I’d just finished my undergrad at Berklee School of Music, and I wanted to get that master’s degree. To find it close to home with professors I knew, respected, and could interact with – it was a no-brainer.”

While at SUU, Tilby was especially grateful for the close relationships he was able to form with his professors and the opportunities they helped him to find. He was able to perform in an Elton John tribute concert with other SUU students. And his long-time industry friend and current SUU professor, Ted Hinkley, put him to work, performing with the Red Rockers. 

“I got to play some bluegrass with the Red Rockers at a small festival, and that was a great time, too,” said Tilby. “I tried really hard not to be the old banjo player on stage, but it’s not a fact I could easily disguise.” 

Tilby began releasing his own music as a way to branch outside of the music he had been playing with Capitol Records artist “Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand.” His original four albums, all in a similar vein to his first, have over a million streams on Pandora.

ryan tilbys album hymns of the new worldHis most recent album, Hymns of the New World, originally began as his capstone project to finish up his graduate degree. However, the album was also an opportunity for Tilby to branch out and try new sounds and feature some of his friends in the industry. 

“I wanted to release more hymns, but this time utilizing more of the instruments I can play well – mandolin, bouzouki, dobro, even a little banjo,” Tilby said. “I had been curating a list of early American hymns, most of which of course didn’t come from America at all, and I wanted to blend that eclectic melting-pot sound with arrangements that still felt true to the spirit of these old sacred songs.”  

The album focuses on honoring those individuals from early American history who “never gave up, never lost hope, and pushed ahead through all adversity.” One of the songs that Tilby feels best encapsulates this theme is “It Is Well with My Soul”. The song was first brought to Tilby’s attention by his wife, and he found both the story and the music itself to be a perfect fit for the album.

Speaking to students with hope for success in the music industry, Tilby encouraged them to continue working through their education. 

“There are so many ways to make a living in music, but a careful education – along with endless hours of practicing your craft – can almost guarantee success,” said Tilby. “Never give up. Keep the faith, the hope, and keep working. Of course it’s tough. Of course you'll fall. Manage your expectations and your priorities, and enjoy.”

SUU’s Master of Music Technology is an online Master’s program, with focuses in performance technology and studio & game audio technology. It is a thirty credit hour course that prepares graduates to work in the music profession.

Tags: Music Technology Alumni College of Performing and Visual Arts

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