Songs and Stories: songwriters showcase their souls

Alex Hopper, Staff Writer

Events on campus are few and far between this semester, and much of the student body is itching for some sense of normalcy.

The Well Church Florence has responded to this need by holding Songs and Stories: A Songwriter’s Showcase.

This socially distanced event was coordinated by one of The Well members, Jenae Willett. She wanted to bring students together and showcase local talent.

“We just wanted to have an event just to get people together in the weird corona time,” said Willett.

The event consisted of eight local musicians who performed an original song and then told the story behind the lyrics.

Many of the musicians were current or alumni entertainment industry students at UNA.

The first performer, Bay Simpson, is a current UNA student and is the frontman of OutLaw Apostles, his touring band.

Simpson explained that his song didn’t start with a story but, with a phrase from his bandmate.

“My guitarist looked at me and said ‘I’m just a grain of sand in the water,” said Simpson. “I said, ‘that sounds like the opening line of a chorus.”

His song, “Forgive Me Father,” centered around self-reflection and apologizing for his faults.

“I’m not sure if this song is about God or your biological father,” said Simpson. “It’s up to your interpretation.”

Two recent graduates from UNA, Margaret Carpenter and Maddie Stembridge also performed.

Carpenter’s song was about the anxiety she feels about moving to Brazil next year.

“It was one of those songs where I thought I knew what it meant when I wrote it,” said Carpenter. “I learned over the next few months I had no idea.”

Carpenter’s song, “Life as I know it,” was about the anxiety she feels about moving to Brazil next year.

“It was an opportunity I had been working toward and dreaming about for years,” said Carpenter. “But there was a part of me that wasn’t really ready for my life to change.”

When Carpenter originally wrote her song, she thought she was writing about an event in the distant future, but her life changed sooner than she expected.

“I graduated college, COVID-19 hit, I moved out of my parent’s house,” said Carpenter. “So I had to face my fear of change a lot sooner than I anticipated.”

Another performer, Brooke Buchanan, a senior entertainment industry student, touched on the rarity of in-person events this semester.

“It’s good to see familiar faces in the midst of all this craziness,” said Buchanan.

Her song centered around lost-love.

“This song I started writing after my last break-up,” said Buchanan. “I was thinking about how relationships can dissipate on their own sometimes, and things just don’t feel like home anymore.”

The coordinator of the event, Jenae Willett, also performed an original song.

“It feels a little but weird to play at an event that I helped create,” said Willett. “It’s all a ploy to get you to hear me.”

Willett’s song “Slow Down” was inspired by her trying to learn how to rest in the Lord. The song took on God’s perspective, giving advice to a worried mind.

“I try to earn things and make up for things,” said Willett. “And all the time I feel like God is telling me to just slow down, take a break, just rest.”

Two more current entertainment industry students performed, Noah Howard and Abigail Virginia.

Howard was inspired by his own life goals.

“I wrote this song about one of my favorite quotes,” said Howard. “Every man in his life dies twice. The first time when he breathes his last breath, and then when his name is mentioned for the last time.”

Howard started thinking about the legacy he wanted to leave behind and was inspired to write his original song.

The last performer, Mackenzie Pruitt, is a worship leader at The Well Church.

“My love language is words of affirmation,” said Pruitt. “I tend to manipulate people into giving me words of affirmation, which is dumb because then it doesn’t even count anymore.”

Pruitt’s unreleased song was about the struggle in wanting affirmation from those around you.

This event was a rare chance to get to hear live music this semester. It showcased the talent that has passed through UNA and the current students that are carrying that tradition on.