Written by Katie Knipper and Lydia Fletcher
Songwriter Natalie Layne hopes the Christian Showcase will allow others to find the joy she feels when music and faith intersect.
“I always feel like God is breathing out new songs, and we’ll just get to be a part of that, and kind of write down what He’s saying and run with it,” she said.
Layne comes from a line of musically-inclined and selfless people. Her parents both performed in the worship band at their church, while her grandmother taught her piano from the age of three.
Though both were always a part of her life, music and faith intersected for her when she started leading worship at her church.
“That’s where music became really meaningful because this is something that I love to do, and yet, it’s still not about me,” she said. “That has so much meaning when we can just reach outside of ourselves with something that we love to do.”
When debating what college to attend, the deciding moment for Layne was watching her friend perform at a Christian Showcase. The artists blew her away that night, and she knew from that moment on that she belonged at Belmont.
Now, three years later, the senior commercial piano major gets to see that formative experience from a different perspective.
“It’s just crazy to look back at that, and now I’m writing my own songs and realizing a bunch of stuff,” she said.
This year’s all-female lineup really excites Layne as well.
“I think that God gives something unique to women,” she said. “He gives a nurturing spirit and really unique perspectives on words, so I’m just excited to see what the show is like on Saturday.”
Written by Katie Knipper
Many musicians claim to start young, but Skylar Shupe debuted on the stage when she was just 4 years old.
“I walked up to my pastor and I tugged on his pants leg because I was too short to get his attention,” Shupe said. “He handed me the mic and I sang some little made-up song that was in my head, and from there it was history.”
The senior music business major can’t remember a time in her life without music. After mainly performing pop and country music, Shupe knew it was time to make music that made her feel alive.
“In the music industry there’s so many people with so many opinions on what you should do,” she said. “I’ve just really learned that it doesn’t matter. You need to sing what’s on your heart and what’s real to you.”
Shupe wasn’t originally planning on applying for Christian Showcase, but said she always wanted to perform in a showcase during her time at Belmont. On the day applications were due, she decided to apply. Since then, she’s practiced with her band almost every day to ensure a stellar performance.
“Even though I’m a Christian artist, I still like to perform with the same amount of energy and effort as a pop artist,” she said.
Beyond entertaining the crowd, Shupe hopes the entire lineup touches the audience with the same hope music has given her through the years.
“When I couldn’t find sanity in any other part of my life, I could sing and, just for a moment, forget that things weren’t going great,” she said. “In the moment, it’s no longer what Skylar Shupe is trying to say — it’s what God is trying to say.”
Written by Chloe Eberhardt
For senior songwriting and music business major Lyndsey Coonrod, performing at the Christian Showcase allows her to share God’s perspective through music.
After writing songs for years, she finally felt ready to share her songs with people.
“I’ve played for as long as I could remember, but I haven’t shared anything,” she said. “Then I remembered that’s why I do what I do — it’s to share it.”
She started music young in Springfield, Illinois, where she learned how to play the piano at six years old. Growing up, her father also played music and wrote songs, which inspired her to try her hand at the craft.
“I oddly wrote my first song after watching an episode of Oprah,” said Coonrod after watching a moving story about a man with cancer.
Aside from Oprah, Coonrod’s finds inspiration from other musicians such as Ben Rector, Colbie Caillat and Natalie Grant. Coonrod’s own music focuses on deep lyrics that work with conceptual pop sounds — creating songs that Christians and non-religious music lovers can relate to.
“Most people who listen to Christian music are already Christian,” she said. “It has the potential to reach both sides of people.”
As she takes the stage this weekend for the Christian Showcase with three other female artists, she is excited to be a part of an empowered lineup performing with purpose in a male-dominated industry.
“I would love to reach the unreached,” said Coonrod.
Written by Brett Wodon
Louisa Wendorff, whose musical journey began at just seven years old, believes that the Lord helped show her the Christian Showcase to spread his message.
With just three days left to apply, she found a band just in time, and the rest is history.
Wendorff is a loyal follower of God who hopes that her music is a vessel for people to see the Lord.
“I want Him to be glorified more than anything else. To me, this is not a performance, it’s a place I get to love and exalt my king.”
When asked to describe her sound, she simply stated that the more she knows God, the less she cares about the answer to that question. She is not concerned with how her music is labeled as long as God’s message is heard and taken to heart.
“The songs that come out are pure worship without thought to how it ‘sounds.’”
Above all else, Wendorff hopes that people feel connected to God through her music, and her performance will prove that possible.
“I want people to see the Lord, not me.”
Photos courtesy of CEMB Showcase Series.