In adjunct professor Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers’ honors class, “Inside the Words and Music,” students study the art of songwriting and the creative process. Rodgers tasked the class with planning a songwriter showcase that would feature original music performed by Syracuse University students.
For the past 11 years, the SU Songwriter Showcase has provided musicians with a space to perform in front of a campus audience. This year’s concert will take place on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in Schine Underground.
Rodgers uses his own experience as a musician to teach about the creative process of writing songs and hopes to foster an appreciation for the creative work happening on campus.
The class has worked together to plan the showcase since the beginning of the semester. The process involved conducting a talent search for songwriters on campus, selecting the students to perform at the event and publicizing the show through social media.
“We have some fantastic shows with musicians who have a lot of experience in performing and others who have just been writing songs privately and are practically playing their original songs in front of an audience for the first time,” Rodgers said.
This year’s performance will feature 10 solo artists and small groups, each playing two original songs. There will also be three to four sets where select musicians will take the stage and perform alongside each other.
“You get to hear a lot of different people,” said Brian Buseck, a sophomore television, radio and film major who has helped organize the event and will perform as well.
The showcase has an exciting lineup, Buseck said, with musical styles ranging from alternative and indie-pop to folk and pop-rock. He said the show is stripped down meaning a majority of the artists are playing solo — naturally creating a more intimate atmosphere.
Mollie Edsell, a sophomore forensic science and psychology major, will also be performing at the showcase. She said that the audience can look forward to “a collective experience of appreciating art in its most raw form.”
“Acoustic music does that in such a special way,” Edsell said. “When it’s just the singer-songwriter, their guitar and the mic, that’s when you get the most truth out of an artist.”
For the musicians showcasing their work, this raw, vulnerable feeling associated with performing isn’t something to shy away from. Instead, it’s a feeling to embrace. That vulnerability along with the powerful strum of a guitar or length of a note can connect musicians to their audience.
“When performing, it feels like you’re explaining yourself more clearly than you ever could have,” said Keegan White, a graduate student in audio arts, and performing two folk-based pieces. “I think of it as a way that I’m able to speak to someone in ways that I couldn’t, and I think that’s a really special part of it.”
Sarah Gross, a freshman majoring in sound recording technology, will perform her song “The Waves.” She said that the reason people are drawn to music is because “those are real emotions coming out of those people.”
“I think anyone that has performed, especially their own music, can attest to the fact that it’s hard to get up there and show everything on your sleeve,” Gross said. “It’s a really courageous thing to do.”
For someone who remembers what it was like to start off in the world of music, Rodgers said the concert is a rare and special experience for those attending, as well as those performing.
“It’s a great chance for people to just really tune in, put away the phone and listen to all these very personal expressions coming from these students,” Rodgers said. “It’s a very refreshing, very human experience to see people put themselves out there like that.”
The SU Songwriter Showcase will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Schine Underground. Admission is free and open to the public.
This content was originally published here.