Pictured: Musician Audrey Gibbs (C’22). Photo courtesy of Gibbs.
By Lilly Moore
When asked if there was anything she wanted to start her interview with, Audrey Gibbs (C’22) responded with a long laugh and, “Oh god, you can’t put [the] weird things I say in here.” The ever-aware Gibbs then giggled again and continued eating her McClurg pizza, ready to answer whatever was thrown her way with that initial rule established.
The singer-songwriter from Davidson, North Carolina can’t think of a time in which she wasn’t creating music. “I’ve been songwriting ever since I can really remember. I recently found some songs I wrote when I was like five or six in like little journals,” Gibbs said, “so really ever since I can remember.”
Alongside her own inventions, Gibbs enjoys covering other artist’s music; Amy Winehouse, Sara Bareilles, and Kacey Musgraves are at the top of her queue, though she’s been known to dabble with more alternative sounds. “Sometimes a little Weezer,” Gibbs chuckled, “maybe a little Panic!”
Gibbs’ musical interests branch outside of any confined genre as she admits to sampling a little bit of everything, from indie rock to country. Gibbs has been known to get down to anything from Katy Perry to Brockhampton. “I have to admit, I do listen to show tunes,” she said with joking reluctance. Having done musical theatre since she was about nine, music, and performance are ingrained within her, though her experience with playing music and performing theatre differ greatly.
“I get kind of nervous and I’ve always been a bit of a nervous performer, but not nervous when it comes to theatre. I think it has something to do with putting on another persona, but with music, it’s very raw and you get up there and it’s just you and your instrument,” she said.
When asked about her strengths, Gibbs replied that she finds herself to be an intensely creative person. “I’ve really gotten used to channeling my emotions, whether it be in frustrations or happiness in my music, into writing and performing and that’s been really great not only for my health but for me as a performer.”
In her live performances, Gibbs’ attention-grabbing charisma can be attributed to her pure love for her craft. “I really really love it,” said Gibbs with a genuine gleam in her eye. “I think people can tell when I perform that I love it, and that’s really the message I try to convey.”
To accompany her love of music, Gibbs’ inspirations are very prominent in her creative process. Before the words “who inspires you” could fully be spoken, Gibbs replied, without a moment’s hesitation, “Amy Winehouse, Sara Bareilles, Brandi Carlile.”
She elaborated that she’s loved Bareilles from a tender age and has thus carried her sound ingrained with her for some time. Winehouse is a perfect example of Gibbs’ extensive attachment to Winehouse’s albums. Gibbs added, “You can really hear every emotion in her voice and every single note and every single note has something behind it, it’s very honest.”
Finally, it’s Carlile’s “country twang” and “southern folk swag,” which Gibbs finds herself channeling in her own songs, that keeps Carlile as a leader on the list of Gibb’s inspirations.
As a veteran to open mic nights, having gotten her start in coffee shop open mics in her hometown, live performance in front of her peers is no crazy feat to Gibbs. Her next gig, as the opening act to Sewaneroo, Sewanee’s student-run music festival, is a bit more daunting.
After commenting on the impressive nature of her achievement, Gibbs exclaimed, “Right?! It’s really wild! I would never have expected to be playing, I mean I guess relatively opening up for 3OH!3, a band that I grew up listening to. It’s really wild and it’s very exciting.”
Gibbs’ set at Sewaneroo begins at 3:30 on Saturday, April 27 on Georgia Ave where she’ll be performing both original works and some of her favorite covers. “It’ll probably be the biggest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. Though she, and most others who’ve seen her perform, know this peak will soon be surpassed.