Tony-award winning actress, singer and dancer Sutton Foster invited Ball State Music students to perform on her third solo studio album “Take Me to the World.”

The album includes student performers in every facet of the songs from orchestra to background singers to the cover art and finally, the recording.

The group began work November 2017, utilizing technology from the Music Instruction Building recording studio to complete the recording within about a week.

Foster’s album can be purchased and streamed on various platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

Douglas Droste, director of orchestras at Ball State, said the group recorded six to eight tracks with the orchestra during two, three-hour recording sessions.

“Anytime you can record with an international star such as Sutton Foster, it’s a privilege and a pleasure,” said Douglas Droste, director of orchestras at Ball State.

Droste said the majority of the students on the track had not yet performed in a recording setting, especially at that level of professionalism.

“Recording sessions can be very stressful,” Droste said. “You have to be a strong musician. You have to be strong-willed. You have to be patient.”

Bill Jenkins, department chair of theatre and dance, said Foster first established a relationship with the school in 2005. Her visit in 2010, however, began to foster a relationship that has been one of the most important in the development of the department, Jenkins said.

While Foster has partnered with Ball State students in the past through workshops and musicals including “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Shrek The Musical,” Jenkins said talks about having students record an album had been in the works for a few years.

Recording alongside Foster, Jenkins said, was indicative of the immersive learning opportunities Ball State students receive. 

“The training is working because our students immediately and comfortably moved into the role of being active professionals on a professional recording with little to no problems,” Jenkins said.

A large part of the easy transition, Jenkins said, was the implementation of musicianship sightseeing training that allows students to learn music quickly and efficiently. In fact, the students didn’t even see some of the music until the week of the recording. 

“It was a major project. Our students did incredibly top work in a short amount of time,” Droste said. “They really performed well and rose to the occasion.”

Contact Andrew Harp with comments at or on Twitter @adharp24.