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Talented APSU freshman awarded hand-crafted concert guitar

Chaz Privette

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University freshman Chaz Privette, a music performance major, was recently named the second national recipient of an expensive, hand-crafted concert guitar by the nonprofit organization GiftedGuitar.

“At first, I thought, this can’t be happening,” Privette said, ‘but it felt amazing when I realized it actually was happening.”

This spring, GiftedGuitar – a new San Francisco nonprofit that works to put concert-quality instruments in the hands of unusually promising young musicians – presented the APSU student with a newly hand-constructed Kenny Hill signature concert guitar worth around $8,000.

“It took my whole high school savings to buy the guitar I had before,” Privette said. “I saved and saved, playing gigs at places – restaurants and little cafes. Being able to have a guitar like this would have taken years and years and years to save up for.”

On a warm afternoon in late April, Privette sat on the empty stage of the APSU Music/Mass Communication Building’s Mabry Concert Hall, running through pieces on his new instrument.

“I can hear the difference.” He smiled. “I can hear the price.”

Privette, a Columbia, Tennessee, native, began playing guitar when he was 6, and he showed such talent that his parents reached out to Dr. Stanley Yates, a world-renowned guitarist and APSU professor of music.

“Chaz is a special case,” the APSU professor said. “He’s about the only private student I’ve taught outside of the University.”

 When it came time for Privette to go to college, he didn’t think twice about enrolling at Austin Peay.

“Dr. Yates – that’s why I came to Austin Peay,” he said. “He’s incredible, all the insight he’s had with 50 years of experience – almost 30 years as a professor.”

GiftedGuitar awarded its first guitar to a student at the prestigious Oberlin College-Conservatory of Music. The San Francisco nonprofit then reached out to Yates about who he thought should receive the second guitar. He immediately thought of Privette.

“As a freshman, he already plays in the graduate quartet,” Yates said. “GiftedGuitar awarded him the guitar, and it’s his to keep.”

In the concert hall, Privette examined the instrument, turning it over and watching the stage lights shine across the smooth wood surface.

“What I like about playing is mostly the tone of the guitar,” he said. “It’s so varied. It has this certain sonority to it, unlike any other instrument.”

The Clarksville-Montgomery County community will get to hear more from the talented Privette and his guitar in the coming years. For information on the APSU Department of Music, including upcoming concerts and events, visit www.apsu.edu/music.

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