Photo by Lucy Wimmer (C’20)
By Anna Mann
Fairy lights lined the friendly yellow walls, guitar cases stretched up their long necks from the floor, and students sipped warm mugs of tea in every nook and cranny of Stirling’s porch. September 22 not only marked the first day of Autumn, but also kicked off Sewanee’s first open mic night of the year as well. From the rich tones of acoustic guitar to the smooth notes of the saxophone, the musically inclined on campus came together to entertain their classmates.
The event lasted for about an hour, and the whole time people tapped their feet, sang along, and yelled enthusiastically when their friends took their instruments to the seats at the center of the porch. All the musicians received a warm welcome and exit from the makeshift stage. Many were first time performers or those who wrote their own music.
Fiona Charnow (C’20) played for the Sewanee crowd for the first time at the event. Despite her confidence and beautiful voice, she confesses that the performance was “nerve-wracking, for sure. I’ve played around town, since I’m from Sewanee, but it’s different singing here. You want to impress your classmates.”
Oppositely, Jack Gray (C’19) and Sara Balte (C’17) state that this was not their first time in front of a Sewanee crowd. When asked if the two singers had worked together before the event, Gray stated, “She’s my pre-wife; we sang a song during our skit, but it’s our first time singing together like this.”
In response, Balte remembers that “Jack auditioned last year for a cappella and we came away going ‘wow, this kid is so talented.’ So we thought it would be fun to do something tonight.”
Gray smiled when asked how long he’d been writing music. “I’ve actually been writing since I was about nine,” he said from his seat on the railing of the porch.
Open Mic Night felt particularly special for Balte. “This is so cheesy,” she replied, “but Open Mic really brings everyone together. There are Greek members, non-Greeks, people from theme houses, and of course, all the grades.”
Similarly, Catherine Campbell (C’18) says, “You’d never know just from looking at these people that they’d be such good singers. Or even if they’re not good, I love that they’re putting themselves out there.” Whether students played original pieces, sang acoustic versions of rock songs, or simply came to support their friends, Open Mic Night gave students a place to relax and listen to some wonderful music.