Musician Tony Copeland a ‘hidden gem’ at HCC


Tony “Guitar” Copeland HCC student and acclaimed musician will graduate from HCC in May

Jimmieka Mills, Editor-in-Chief

Imagine touring Europe with your childhood musical idol, being called upon by one of the most sought after producers in the world and while preparing to set off on tour for your solo album, your manager tells you, “Go to school to get your degree! The tour and the music will be there when you finish.”

Those were the words Manager Carol Williams said to her client that would bring him to HCC.

“Tony is a producer and a writer and now, going to HCC, he’ll have the legal side of the music business which is very important. Most artists don’t have that particular background and that’s where they get stuck at,” says Williams. “Just because a record makes a million dollars doesn’t mean an artist does.”

Tony’s musical talent has allowed him to tour with Frankie Beverly and Maze, make hits with Luther Vandross, and work with Felton Pilate of famed Funk band ConFunkShun. Needless to say, he is a musical veteran but the other title he also shares pride in is the title of military veteran. Tony has found a way to use the titles that mean so much to him, to make a meaningful impact on others.

“The best thing he’s done since he’s been with HCC I think, is that he is pretty much the number one mentor especially for the young students and our veterans.” Said Darryl Linden HCC Music Advisory Board member.

Known as Tony “Guitar” Copeland he taught himself the craft after his father—who himself had been a part of a musical group—brought home instruments after the group, ‘The Golden Tones,’ had disbanded.

“I was too small to hold the heavy guitar so I used the four fingers on my right hand to hold it in place on my lap while I played with my thumb. That’s why I don’t need to use a pic when I play now.”

Tony began to teach himself to play guitar in the darkness of the closet in which the equipment was stored. His skills would be honed in church while watching and imitating the musicians during service. He and his siblings formed their own band where he contributed not only his skills on instruments but also vocally.

Tony went on to serve in the military repairing helicopters and planes while continuing to play his music, this time for his fellow troops.

“He entertained troops and played whenever he could. Even though he was in the army, he was still like an Elvis type figure in terms of playing and entertaining troops.” Said Linden who is also a veteran as well as a member of the Springboard Houston Festival.

The Springboard Houston Festival which will be celebrating its 6th anniversary in June, collaborates with the HCC Spring Branch Chapter of the Music Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA) to hold an annual student talent competition. The prize, a chance to perform your own full set on the main stage at the Springboard Festival.

Judges have included Matthew Knowles, Stacia Pratt, who represented the Executive Producers/production company for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, Attorney Rickey Anderson who represents Tyler Perry and Steve Harvey as well as local legends such as DJ Swift and T Farris co-founder of Swishahouse to name a few.

“We did it out of good faith not necessarily expecting any of them to make it,” says Linden. “We’d bring them in to judge these students and also give them feedback on their act.”

In 2015 Tony tried out and in doing so broke musical barriers for HCC students.

“Tony won the showcase, obviously, and kind of became a personal favorite of Matthew Knowles,” says Linden, “he was the first HCC student to make the main stage and was able to do the full 20-minute performance.”

There is no doubt that the degree he will receive from HCC in May will further catapult him in his career, he continues to keep in mind though how much he has been supported into and throughout school.

“I’m very humbled that Veterans Affairs allowed me the opportunity to go to school and to get my degree. They worked with me the whole way whatever I needed they took care of it.”

Tony’s support didn’t stop there, after enrolling at HCC he would gain support from HCC faculty and staff that would help smooth his transition of returning to school.

“Mr. Nitzberg who is the chair for the music department was my MIDI 1 instructor only because the professor who was supposed to come teach us for the semester couldn’t come.”

“He [Mr. Nitzberg] was very courteous and informative. Anytime we had a question he would stop what he was doing and answer. He made us feel welcomed and he simplified the course. He was very encouraging.”

Tony recalls him as being one of the first HCC employees to recognize his musical prowess.

“When I made my first song for a project for his class he called me to the side and said ‘There’s more to you than we know. Your music is professional’. That’s when he began to further encourage me and introduce me to other people and different faculty members.”

Tony eventually met Regina Wilson, Student Life Coordinator for the HCC Southwest campus, who helped him to share his gifts with a larger HCC audience.

After one of his professors heard his music and began telling other faculty about its professional sound, he was asked to perform at a Veteran’s Day event at HCC Westloop. “That’s where I met Regina and she began to hire me for HCC events. So, for the last three years she’s hired me for every Veterans Day, Black History Month and every event they have.”

Tony’s eagerness to give back to HCC especially to his fellow vets will definitely be missed when he graduates in May.

“When I left there he kind of took my place in making sure the vets go through the different programs and things they needed to do as far as their HCC paperwork, life issues how they’re doing since they came back from Iraq or Afghanistan even some of the other guys that were in desert storm,” says Linden, adding “He’s played that role as well as taking every young student who plays guitar and sings under his wing.”

Tony has without a doubt touched many lives through his gift of music and he is grateful to have been able to do so.

“I thank God for giving me the gift of musical talent because my gift is making room for me. I’m thankful for all the people at HCC that helped me out to be exposed and share my story. Being a veteran, it’s hard for veterans to come back and get a foothold in the world. I’m humbled, I’m blessed and I’m thankful.”

His manager is also reaping the benefits of Tony’s academic success. She is very proud of the fact that, “He’s been on the Dean’s List several times,” said Williams, adding, “His talents along with the education he is receiving at HCC has put him at a higher level.”

For more information on Tony visit:

To purchase his latest album, visit:

For more information on Springboard Festival Houston visit their website:

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article misstated that Stacia Pratt was publicist for Matthew McConaughey. Stacia Pratt is not and has never been Matthew McConaughey’s publicist. She represented the Executive Producers/production company for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’.