School of Music Students Perform Songs Highlighting Their Personal Styles

A group of 14 students from the School of Music walked onto a dim stage. As performers in the Artist Development Showcase for the Fall 2020 semester, these talented artists were prepared to belt out songs that they had worked tirelessly all semester to perfect.

Each student was given an opportunity to perform his or her own stylistic take on an original or covered songs for a grade. These students prepared their own versions of rock, jazz, pop, and gospel songs, showcasing their creativity and God-given talent.

The Michael W. Smith Department of Commercial Music, a relatively new addition to the School of Music, provides students a number of opportunities to prepare them for the competitive music industry.

“I have watched so many elements be added to this program over the years,” said Seth Damon, a junior artist development major. “Now it has evolved from ‘Find something that is your style and do it that way,’ into ‘Take something and truly make it your own.’”

Over half of the students at the showcase performed original songs. Alexi Kuzins and Damon co-wrote a song called “No Not Today.”

“We wanted our song to be Christian, and we wanted it to include both of our styles, rock and pop gospel, so we just decided to write our own,” Kuzins said. “Through writing this song we were able to bend and break these rules to fit our styles, showcase our vocal ranges, and Seth could even fit in a guitar solo.”

From simple chords on a page to the intricate on-stage performance, Damon said the experience allowed the songs to have room for a lot of creativity. Getting to implement different stylistic, vocal, and instrumental elements allowed him artistic freedom.

McKenna Stamm, a junior artist development major, created her own rendition of the Beatles “Golden Slumbers” and Lori Carouthers “I Can Trust in You.” Stamm said she was really inspired by the theme of rest.

“I knew I wanted to do ‘Golden Slumbers’ because it is a passionate lullaby and I wanted to tie that in with our walk with Christ and how he invites us to rest,” Stamm said.

The Fall 2020 Artist Development Showcase was made possible under the instruction of the Associate Professor of Commercial Music Dr. Mindy Damon, the showcase bands director Everett Godwin and Patrick Shorts, and a number of other School of Music professors and students.

Maggie Effler is a Feature Writer.

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