New venue for LU Musicians

Sonia Emmons

Thursday, Jan. 25 the Underground Coffeehouse provided a poetic setting for Lawrence’s latest creative musical endeavor: the Night of Singer-Songwriters.
The event, designed to showcase Lawrence singer-songwriters, ran from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. It promised to draw music lovers and night owls from across the Lawrence campus.
Program coordinator Becca Shorr, a singer-songwriter herself, was inspired to create the event because she felt that “there really isn’t a venue at Lawrence for singer-songwriters to showcase their talents and pieces.”
What about SoundBoard? While providing a refuge for students who on Sunday evening refuse to believe the weekend is nearly over, Soundboard predominantly features Lawrence student musicians.
“While Soundboard does showcase singer-songwriters,” Shorr replied, “it is only one person hosting one show. I wanted to have an event that would feature many different people.”
The singer-songwriters come to the coffeehouse stage with varying degrees of experience in the art of singing their own songs. Jesse Weinberg, a conservatory musician and member of the Jazz Singers vocal ensemble, comes with plenty of experience in performing songs he has written.
He expressed great enthusiasm for the Night of Singer-Songwriters, saying, “I’m excited to see singer-songwriters finally bury the hatchet and come together.” Perhaps he meant the hatchets that singers carry in the likely event that a friendly karaoke session spirals into a duel of molto espressivo proportions.
Like other artists, every songwriter has a unique motivation for composing. Of his own songs, Weinberg observed, “When I write songs I try to encapsulate a feeling that I’ve known or might not have wanted to know. I hope to resonate with the audience similar feelings in their lives.”
Lacey Jo Benter, another Lawrence conservatory vocalist and songwriter, has experience in classical music performance such as opera but has never performed as a songwriter. Even so, she is excited and ready to share some of her thoughts with listeners.
Reflecting on the personal nature of her songs, she remarked, “In many ways the songs I write are like an entry in a journal. More than anything, they act as a form of therapy for me.”
Both Benter and the audience are in luck, for music therapy is surely the most enjoyable kind of therapy there is.
While most Lawrence singer-songwriters feel there should be more events to showcase singer-songwriters, all agreed that Thursday’s Night of Singer-Songwriters is a step in the right direction. It is truly a night for them to shine.
“The goal of the event,” Shorr stated, “is to hopefully give singer-songwriters a performance venue and to also allow students at Lawrence to see a different kind of talent and musicianship, other than playing and listening to classical music or jazz music.”
In the future, Shorr hopes to program events that more closely resemble Lawrence’s popular open-mike nights. But for now, the spotlight rests on the eponymous musicians of the Night of Singer-Songwriters. Just be sure to watch out for those hatchets.

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