Gulfport-native Sarah Margaret Hewes, who helped bring fun., 2 Chainz and Jack White to the campus of Mississippi State University, has dedicated her life to music.
She said it is something she inherited from her father, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.
"My dad has taught me so much about music, especially about the blues," she said. "He's a musician and a songwriter and I owe so much of my love for music to him."
Sarah Hewes said she remembers her first concert was Journey in a Coast casino, but she said the show that really fueled her passion for music and live shows was Pat Benatar.
"I remember my parents taking me to see her at the Grand (Casino) -- before Katrina," she said. "We were sitting at a table and my dad gave me a CD and a pen, and I walked up to the stage -- you could walk up to the stage back then -- and she signed it for me. I loved that show because not only was she a woman, but she was a rocker, and I love rock music."
At 24, Hewes has transformed her passion for music into a career. She is working toward her master's degree in music business from NYU and acting as tour manager for the band AJR, who started a tour last week in Orlando opening for We the Kings.
"I've always had a love for music, as early as I can remember," she said, "and I always thought the best and easiest way for me to get in the music industry was to become an entertainment lawyer, which has been my goal since I was in high school and that's why I first wanted to go NYU."
A Music Maker at MSU
Before NYU, Hewes was a history major at MSU, where she worked for Music Maker Productions, the concert port that had been responsible for bringing performers such as Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi and others to Humphrey Coliseum on the MSU campus.
She said she worked in several positions at Music Maker, including catering and hospitality. During her senior year, she was named student director of the organization.
During the 1990s, the production company found itself directly competing with the BancorpSouth Center in Tupelo, which was pulling in acts such as the Eagles, Tom Petty and KISS. But under Hewes' leadership, Music Maker was once again back on top.
"It was such an incredible experience," she said. "I worked closely with Jim Green, the promoter, and his staff."
Hewes helped bring big-name talent back to campus.
"2 Chainz was huge," she said. "We fought for that one pretty hard and it sold out and it was the first sold-out show they had in years."
She said the Jack White show was also a special one for her.
"The White Stripes are my favorite band," she said. "'Get Behind Me Satan' came out a few months before Hurricane Katrina hit, and I listened to it a lot during those days."
After her gig as student director, Hewes said, she decided to change her career direction from music law to music business. She earned a bachelor's degree in history from MSU.
On the road
Hewes is on the road with AJR until the last show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, April 9.
"I'm in my last semester at NYU," she said. "It's a really great thing for me. The band is phenomenal. But the interesting thing is I'm still a student and I'm missing school -- the second draft of my thesis is due the day I get back from tour so I have about 20 pages I have to write on the road."
But she said she is happy to be carving out a niche in the music industry.
I always knew I wanted to work in the live industry in some capacity, because I think that's the heart and soul of music, and it's what brings people together," she said. "The live concert is just the most incredible experience because you're there with strangers and for a few hours, you have that in common."