Artist Preview: Country Showcase 2020
Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Cole Ritter and the Night Owls
By Chloe Eberhardt
For country music lovers who love a good time, Cole Ritter and the Night Owls bring music to life with a passion for authenticity. They will take the stage at the Curb Event Center this Saturday for the country showcase.
Ritter, a sophomore music business student from Gallatin, Tennessee picked up the fiddle when he was only three years old and hasn’t stopped playing since. Along the way, he learned how to play five more instruments.
After starting at Belmont, he picked up a band and started a band — Cole Ritter and the Night Owls.
The Night Owls are Tom Davis, Eli Dayton, Zach Bunton, Christian Starrett, Alex Barcic and Davis Ginn — and their name comes from many late night sessions that turned into early mornings.
“There’s always been symbolism in my family with owls being guardians of wisdom,” said Ritter.
Those sleepless nights helped them create a unique sound for modern day country.
“It’s really a combination of old school honky rockabilly and western swing influence,” said Ritter.
Classic musicians like Ray Price, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra all influence the multi-instrumental sound. The variety of genres portrays compelling stories reminiscent of the good old days and front porch sitting.
When Ritter isn’t cooking up new music, you can find him in the kitchen, probably cooking pasta.
“I’m excited to share everything we’ve done with friends and family,” said Ritter.
By Chloe Eberhardt
Country artist Jordan Dozzi has an appreciation for the universal power of music, coming to Belmont all the way from Australia — but country is where his heart lies, he said.
“I feel like country music has the best songwriting in the world,” said Dozzi.
Originally from Brisbane, Dozzi moved to Nashville and fell in love with Music City. The junior music business major doubles as a professional soccer player, playing for Belmont as a forward.
Looking at his family tree, it came as no surprise when he started writing and playing music.
“My grandmother would play pianos behind ventriloquists. My father played guitar and my mother would sing, it’s how they met,” said Dozzi.
He describes his music as contemporary country, pulling from influences like Jon Bellion and Keith Urban. As an artist who likes to produce every piece of his work, the blended genres come together to form a personal take on modern country.
Dozzi’s favorite part about making music is writing lyrics, and it shows in his heartfelt writing.
After working over four years gigging in coffee shops for hours with no breaks, the Country Showcase is what everything has led to for him.
“I’m looking forward to sharing the songs that I’ve spent so long putting my life into, my effort, my emotions, my everything.”
By Madison Bowen
Maggie Renfroe’s “soulful sound with a modern twist” will fill the air of the Curb Event Center on Saturday as the senior music business major takes the stage.
“From an early age, I thought the whole thing of being an artist — from writing the songs, putting music out and touring — I thought every angle of that was really cool,” said Renfroe.
Though music is now a large part of her life, it might not have been if it wasn’t for a few sports injuries early on in high school.
“I had 3 concussions in ninth grade that kinda put me out of sports, and music just really became my therapy for that,” said Renfroe. “Through a couple of years of healing, I found this love and passion for music I never really knew I had.”
She first learned to play the guitar at eight years old and would later learn techniques and skills from Josh Carson, who has become one of the most influential people in her life.
She first saw Carson play a show in their hometown of Macon Georgia, home to other music stars such as Jason Aldean and Otis Redding. The two were later introduced through a mutual friend and have stayed connected through their love for music since.
Carson will be playing along with her at the showcase as they perform a sneak preview of two unreleased songs of hers.
With other influences such as The Civil Wars, Drew and Ellie Holcomb and Ben Rector, Renfroe described her sound as, “like a girl, Ben Rector mixed with Maren Morris.”
Most of all she wants audience members to be able to connect to her music, and of course to have fun with her.
“I would encourage the audience just to have fun, whether they know me or not,” she said. “I want them to have fun and find something in their life that they can relate to through my music — that maybe heals them like music has healed me.”
By Laura Privott
Bella Hudson gained her musical ability at a young age.
“I started playing guitar when I was five. Then I switched to piano and back to guitar at eight,” Hudson said. “When I was 11, my dad and I went to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and I saw a guy performing at the kids’ tent and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Hudson confidently went to the person in charge of the music for the tent and asked if she could play. After he heard one of her songs, he immediately wanted her on the big stage — in front of 10,000 people.
“Once I was on stage, all my nerves went away. That’s when I figured out what I was made to do,” she said.
Hudson has accomplished a lot for only being a junior in college. She’s opened for multiple artists including Midland, Michael Ray and Trace Adkins. She’s performed at a TedxBoulder Talk.
Growing up in Evergreen, Colorado, she said she felt secluded and wanted something more for her music.
“When I moved to Denver, it was so diverse and it helped broaden my music. I was so confined in Evergreen, but in Denver, there were so many possibilities,” she gushed.
Now at Belmont, Hudson hopes to wow the audience with her bubbly country music.
“The first song I’m singing for showcase is a cute-sy song about my boyfriend called ‘Last First Date.’ My other one is a sad song, but it has an uptempo-ish feel,” she said. “I just hope people can see my personality in my songs and relate to it.”
— Photos courtesy of Jonathan Sommer.