'Northern Pride' is NMU's New Alma Mater

Dwight Brady

Northern Michigan University has selected a new alma mater titled “Northern Pride” in conjunction with its 125th anniversary year. The anthem was composed by NMU multimedia journalism professor Dwight Brady.

“It's certainly an incredible honor that my version was selected,” Brady said. “I am approaching retirement in a few years, so it is nice to know that a piece of me will continue on through song here at Northern—hopefully for a long, long time. It's especially gratifying because my son, Mason, is due to graduate from Northern in December, and that will be the first commencement at which the new alma mater will be sung."

Brady is no newcomer to mixing words and melodies. He started writing songs when he was 9 years old, and has written more than 400 songs. Brady recorded two albums in Nashville and used to play writer's nights at the city's famed Bluebird Café while he was earning his doctorate a few hours down Highway 40 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Even though Brady did not set out to write a new alma mater, it wasn't long after seeing the call for submissions that ideas started sprouting in the mind of this self-described “compulsive songwriter.”

After contemplating features of the area's distinctive landscape, the first lyrics he thought of were mountain ridges, forest floors, crashing waves on rocky shores. He also incorporated references to academic rigor and knowledge, NMU's location on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinaabe people, and his recent hobby of chasing auroras.

“I wanted it to feel like an alma mater, but with a more contemporary sound," he said. "There's a bit of folk also woven in, which seems to fit pretty well with the U.P.” 

Two of Brady's good friends assisted him on the project: Mark Shevy, head of the Communication and Media Studies Department; and retired music professor Rob Engelhart.

“Mark is also a fellow songwriter, so his honest feedback on my lyrics, whether it was positive or constructive, was always very helpful,” Brady said. “Rob and I have done music together for years, and he was a big help in recording the piano tracks in both 4/4 time and 3/4 time to offer the selection committee some variations of ‘Northern Pride.' Having the piano track created the proper feel for an alma mater and made it easier for me to pick out the vocal harmonies as well. We recorded the piano and main vocal in the CAMS recording studio in the McClintock Building, and I added the harmonies at home with a digital mic and my laptop.”

President Brock Tessman announced the selection of Brady's alma mater from 14 original submissions at the May 3 NMU Board of Trustees meeting. Runner-up was "NMU, Our Alma Mater" by alumni Abigail O'Connell and Benjamin Gronvall. Second runner-up was "Golden Shores" by alumni Heidi Hummel and William Ragnone.

The lyrics to “Northern Pride,” which may be tweaked slightly before its official debut at September's Homecoming football game, follow. Listen to Brady's recording of the alma mater at nmu.edu/125 (scroll down the page). 

Mountain ridges, forest floors, crashing waves on rocky shores

On the home of Anishinaabe tribes, our alma mater stands with pride

In your halls, my voice I find, rigor building strength of mind

As we journey from this place, knowledge will ignite our way

Like auroras in the sky, we will shine with Northern pride

We will shine with Northern pride

Cover of Brady's 'Magnetic North' album, recorded in 1999 in Nashville
Cover of Brady's 'Magnetic North' album, recorded in 1999 in Nashville
Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU