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Artist Preview: 2017 Urban Pop Showcase

Stela Cole

Written by Sara Scannell

Hollyn Shadinger, known as Stela Cole, started playing music after suffering a back injury that prevented her from pursuing her first love, soccer.

“I wasn’t able to walk normally for a year my sophomore year of high school. So after my surgery I pretty much fell in love with music,” Cole said. “The door just opened up, and it was really clear that this was what I was supposed to be doing.”

A few years later, Cole found a producer and manager in her home city of Atlanta, who helped cultivate her sound.

“I’ve always been in the pop arena, but I really found my true pop vibe my senior year of high school,” Cole said. “We poured in a lot of time to figure out what makes my music unique.”

Cole’s music draws from a range of influences, including Lana Del Rey, Lily Allen and Rihanna. However she has been particularly inspired by Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury.

“The spontaneity that he puts in the melodies and how funky and together they are showed me that I can do pop music and also do my own unique thing and catch people’s attention.”

As a sophomore, Cole’s time as a commercial voice major has substantially helped her develop her music.

“I’ve already grown a lot from all the music classes I’ve had to take. As hard as it is to have such a heavy course load in the major, I really like how they keep you busy,” said Cole. “They are teaching you the discipline of being a musician.”

 Cole will have the chance to show off her hard work on Saturday.

“Fans can expect a different performance from me,” said Cole. “It will be pop music they have never heard before. Even though my music is considered pop, it’s something different, new and exciting. I don’t think people will be expecting that. They’ll be caught off guard in a good way.”

Jake Rogers

Written by Sara Scannell

Jake Wesley Rogers has become Belmont’s folk-pop darling, after signing a deal with Sony Records his freshman year through Belmont’s Sony/ATV All Access program.

“I’ve wanted to come to Nashville since I was 14, when I knew I wanted to be a songwriter,” said Rogers, a native of Springfield, Missouri.

One of Rogers’ first goals at Belmont was to play a showcase, and this Saturday that dream will come true.

“When I came to visit Belmont I saw the showcase on a preview day and thought ‘wow, maybe one day I’ll do that.’ And here I am,” said Rogers.

Rogers’ influences include Carole King, Adele, Sheryl Crow and his all-time favorite — Fleetwood Mac — who will inspire both his music and his fashion choices on Saturday.

“I’m on the prowl for some velvet outfit; very Stevie Nicks,” Rogers said. “People can expect a keytar, hopefully some bold fashion choices and some ballads that aren’t ballads.”

Rogers’ music has developed tremendously since coming to Belmont as a songwriting major.

“The songwriting program has been incredible and has opened my eyes in a lot of ways,” said Rogers. “Before I came here, I wrote alone and never had to explain my sound to anyone. I’ve had to collaborate with people and changed a lot about my process by becoming more aware of what I like and don’t like.”

Rogers also credits much of his success to the help he has gotten from Sony after signing his record deal a few years ago.

“That took me to a new place in my music because before it was just me,” said Rogers. “I had friends and family and that’s important, but now I have a whole team behind me and that changed a lot of things and made me think about music in different ways. If anything now I just feel really fortunate.”

In spite of his success, Rogers has stayed humble.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle because I’ve realized that no matter who’s supporting me I still have to be exactly who I am.”

Zach Taylor

Written by Lindsey Falgoust

Senior Zach Taylor looks forward to the challenge of performing in the Urban Pop Showcase Saturday night.

Taylor, a music business major, started out with a love of hip-hop music, but he was drawn to pop when he started trying to broaden his musical horizons. He’s inspired by artists such as Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy.

“I started with Guitar Hero and then started making joke rap songs with my friends in high school. And then I just got slowly and surely more serious about it,” he said.

He was drawn to Belmont because of the unique atmosphere of the Nashville music scene.

“It seemed like Nashville was a place where you could make your own rules in a way, because it’s kind of a shapeless city right now,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of in between this country place and now this growing metropolis. It seemed exciting to me.”

Taylor sees the showcase as an opportunity to invest in a meaningful project for senior year. He loved the audition process, and saw it as an chance to gain larger insight about the music business.

“It made me realize that when a performance is put under that much of a microscope, you just really have to be on top of it.”

Taylor is looking forward to sharing his music with his peers at the showcase on Saturday and feels a responsibility to promote a positive message through his performance.

“I want to continue to make music for the pure joy of just making it and not have to worry about any sort of externality other than that,” said Taylor. “Because that’s what is important, just making music.”

Jordan Xidas

Written by Harrison Baldwin

Sophomore music business major Jordan Xidas hopes to spread his lifelong love of pop music to the rest of the Belmont community at Saturday’s Urban Pop Showcase.

“I am carrying the torch my pop heroes have passed on to me,” Xidas said.

Xidas’s father recorded jingles for companies such as Disney and McDonald’s, so he has been around music since he was young.

“Growing up, I always heard my dad singing and playing guitar. That is why I got into music,” he said. “As soon as I learned the first chords, I started writing songs.”

Until now, Xidas has been a solo act, mainly performing acoustically at writers rounds or small local festivals. Saturday will change that.

“I am super excited to get to do a full band performance. It has always just been my voice and a guitar,” Xidas said.

Xidas’s music has evolved since he first started, when he was influenced by John Mayer and Steve Moakler. Now, his style shifted towards “smash electronic pop,” he said, and draws inspiration from artists like Troye Sivan and Tove Lo.

Xidas is confident that his new songs will captivate and entertain the showcase audience.

“Everyone can expect a good time,” Xidas said.

More importantly, Xidas wants his songs and performance to have meaning and value.

“Pop has a purpose. If you listen close enough, you’ll catch it.”

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