Mixing Music and Marketing

When Dexter Purnell isn't teaching, he's engineering hit songs.
Written by: 
Natasha Drake
Dexter Purnell
Dexter Purnell

Dexter Purnell's introduction to music started young -- playing the bass and drums for church worship services. When a friend gave him a four-track recorder in his early teens, he started making his own music.

It led him to a professional musical career – which he combines with his full-time job as a lecturer in marketing at UNT.

Purnell has engineered two songs, "No Greater Love" by Rudy Currence and Chrisette Michele and "I Belong Here" by Rudy Currence, that landed on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. Purnell also was accepted into the Recording Academy in 2022, and as a new member, voted for the Grammys for first time.

"I consider myself to be bi-vocational," he says. "I'm as much a music producer and recording engineer as I am a college professor. And that's a blessing to wear both hats, and to be able to do both at a high level."

A Chicago native, Purnell moved to Texas after being offered a position as a marketing lecturer at UNT in 2020.

His experience in the music industry has elevated the marketing courses he teaches.  "Marketing is all about value, it's creating, communicating and delivering value, and it's no different in the entertainment industry," he says. "You have to know what makes you valuable to the industry and do a really good job of communicating and delivering that value."

Time has been one of the biggest challenges in Purnell's journey, both managing it and dealing with the fortune of having two careers, on top of having earned his doctoral degree.

"It's doable, but you have to manage your time and have an 'against all odds' mindset."

Purnell, who has a doctorate in business administration, along with a bachelor's degree in business administration and two master's degrees in entrepreneurship/organizational management and digital/social media marketing, was a college athlete who initially chose to pursue his dream in the entertainment industry. However, his decision to go back to school resulted from the realization that if he ever wanted to tell his kids that they need to go to college one day, "it would be a tough sell if I didn't have a college degree."

Ultimately, the biggest motivator in both music and teaching has been helping people become the best versions of themselves. Inspiring others and "breathing life into something" are what drives his passion in both careers. He saves a lot of his sessions for the weekend, summer and winter breaks.

"Most of my music clients understand what I do on this side as a professor, so they're OK with being flexible. The cool thing about this profession as a teacher is, while there's work to be done all the time, I have some flexibility regarding when it gets done, which allows me to work around the requirements of my music profession."