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U2 Meets Courtney At The Top of The Rock

Published: April 13, 2021

Early this year, when 11 million viewers tuned in to watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon debut from the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Fallon-fans Paul and Courtney Klimson were not among them. Instead, the Greenville College alumni shared a coveted vantage point behind the scenes where they helped produce the show's live music.

Courtney produced the crown jewel of the star-studded debut - a breathtaking performance by U2 staged on the observatory deck of the Rockefeller Center. Just as the setting sun brilliantly illuminated the Manhattan skyline, the band played its latest single, "Invisible."

Tonight Show producers decided to hire Courtney as a freelance production manager just days before taping. With only five days to prepare, she approached the challenge with gusto and took stock of the experience she gained from years in the music business, including her work for Nashville's EMI and directing Greenville College's Agapefest.

"I was pretty excited," she said. "I thought, somebody's got to do it, and I want to be the one to try. What's the worst that could happen? A tragic end to my career? Absolutely. Or an amazing opportunity for growth and new beginnings, which, thankfully, is how it turned out."

Though the top of the iconic New York City building is a far cry from the Bond County fairgrounds, Courtney pulled the production off with flair. She credits the success to her team of more than 50 talented visual, engineering and production experts. "I worked with the best of the best," she said.

The "best of the best" included Courtney's husband, Paul, monitor engineer for Fallon's house band, The Roots.

Courtney's adventure wit theTonight Show began when she delivered home cooked chili and cornbread to The Roots at work. Waiting for Paul, she happened to hear discussions about the debut episode. When someone voiced the need for a production manager, Courtney promptly spoke up and said she could do it. Six weeks later, she was hired.

A 2003 GC graduate, Courtney (Somerville) Klimson is no stranger to talking her way into big-time gigs and then working hard to exceed expectations. As a college senior, she presented a proposal that convinced the administration she could make Agapefest profitable. Similarly, she landed a full-time job at Masque Sound by proposing the launch of a new division, which she directed.

Confidence, she says, is key. "None of this mousey I'm-not-sure-if-I-can-do-it business. Being confident in what you can do and going out there and doing it is all that matters. If you're skilled and willing to work hard, you can do it."

Since the success ofThe Tonight Show debut, Courtney has dedicated herself to the Klimson's small business, Theory One Productions, and participates in the freelance pool of production management.

She offers this advice to students: "You never really know when you're sitting there in class who may be in your life a decade later; pay attention to who you're with and what their skills are. Someday you could be doing something exciting that might lead to opportunities to collaborate."

Watch a video of the stunning performance below.

Learn more about Paul and Courtney Klimson's work on their website, Theory One Productions.

This article was originally featured in The RECORD Fall 2014.

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