As a new resident of the greater Nashville area, it was a bit overwhelming to learn how to get involved in the local community. Our partnership with the Pilgrimage Festival quickly helped us discover new creative ways to start making a positive impact. With an earned name like Music City, it only made sense that we used Nashville’s reputation as our compass and pair it with one of our initiatives.

The Dark Horse Institute is a local Nashville area school that offers unique hands-on audio engineering and business programs to those looking to springboard their careers in the music industry.

The Dark Horse Institute's approach is creating a unique class of emerging professionals that learn how to excel in an extremely competitive industry with access to state of the art facilities and world-class award-winning instructors. After learning about this program, it instantly made sense that we wanted to sponsor a scholarship to help make the program more accessible to new students.

The Pilgrimage Festival is a multi-genre music event that in just a few short years of existence has seen a tremendous amount of success. They have hosted headline artists such as Chris Stapleton, Justin Timberlake, Jack White, and Eddie Vedder. With thousands in attendance each year, the event attracts talent from all over the country and is a perfect opportunity to host a scholarship drawing for one lucky person to attend the Dark Horse Institute.


The winner of the drawing was Haylie Sampsel, who serendipitously found out about the Dark Horse Institute while visiting Nashville after sharing her passion for music with an Uber driver who was also an alumnus from the school. Sampsel came back to Nashville to visit the campus and instantly fell in love, but the school was just out of reach due to previous student loans from her undergraduate degree. It would seem that fate continued to play a hand in her journey because Pilgrimage Festival was set to begin and the scholarship drawing was available to those who attended the event.

Dark Horse Institute

Dark Horse Institute's audio engineering and music business programs are built on hands-on learning and real-world experience to prepare students for a career in the music industry. 

Whether you’re into Pop, Hip-Hop, Country or Rock, Dark Horse Institute’s Audio Engineering Program will teach you how to produce, record, mix and master music. The Music Business Program will show you how to build successful careers as an Artist Manager, Booking Agent, Studio Owner, Publisher and Record Label Executive.

Since the founding of Dark Horse Institute seven years ago, we’ve helped many students from cities across the country to launch their careers. Award-winning music business veterans have identified Dark Horse Institute as one of the Top 10 Audio Engineering, Music Production and Music Business schools in America.

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Sean W. Couch

President & Co-Trustee at the J.W. Couch Foundation

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