Written by Liz Gresser
Long before auditioning for a Belmont showcase, Grace Lee made her musical debut in a seventh grade talent show.
“I had never sang in front of another person before, and I ended up winning,” said Lee.
The sophomore songwriting and social entrepreneurship major has been singing ever since. Lee also plays guitar, piano and ukulele. Her family thinks she got her musical abilities from her grandmother.
“My parents are so untalented musically,” Lee said. “My grandma was a singer though. She had a beautiful voice.”
Her parents may not have passed down their talent, but they definitely passed down their taste.
“I grew up listening to jazz and Motown, so I’ve always really liked R&B,” Lee said.
In her writing, Lee pulls from a multitude of genres, like jazz, pop and folk. She draws inspiration from the artists like jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald and indie singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.
Although Lee has learned a great deal about songwriting from the music she listens to, Belmont has helped her discover her specialty as an artist — her melodies.
“I am really drawn to ethereal, dainty, delicate sounds and vocal runs,” said Lee. “Lyrically, I love jazz music, nature imagery and romantic surreal storytelling.”
For songwriting inspiration, Lee likes to relax and observe the world around her. Her song “Walk Slow” is all about living life in the moment.
“I wrote it in Uganda on a study abroad,” said Lee. “I told myself, ‘Take a deep breath. You don’t need to be constantly entertained. You can absorb the things around you.’”
Written by Justin Wagner
Even at a young age, Joe Daccache took every opportunity he could to experience the excitement of performing.
“Back in the days of elementary school on Bus 682, I would run up and down the aisle of the bus, performing songs using any cylindrical object as a microphone,” Daccache said. “I enjoyed the thrill of performing and I knew from then that crafting songs and performing is what I want to do.”
While studying songwriting and music business, Daccache has honed his skills at Belmont. He’s also caught the eye of people in the industry – receiving the Broadcast Music Inc. John Lennon Scholarship Award.
“Coming to Nashville and studying at Belmont have been substantial for my growth as both an artist and a writer,” Daccache said. “Receiving that award showed me firsthand that hard work pays off.”
Daccache’s blend of pop and rhythm and blues draws influence from artists such as Sabrina Claudio, Aretha Franklin and Christina Aguilera.
And although his music is laid back, Daccache is confident his performance at the Urban Pop Showcase will be lively.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but the show is going to be so fun,” Daccache said. “We’ve decided to throw it back and do something old school for the cover song, so expect something good.”
With new original songs to debut at the showcase, such as “Game” and “Fool Like You,” Daccache hopes to captivate and entertain the audience with his work.
When thinking about other aspiring songwriters, Deccache has a straightforward piece of advice.
“Have good content, and be a good person. People want to work with good people.”
Written by Rob Redel
Bren Joy only started singing at the start of his freshman year at Belmont, but he hasn’t let that hold him back.
The Nashville native is focused on making music and staying optimistic – and he isn’t afraid to say he believes in himself.
“I was the sports guy in high school and when that ended, and I really didn’t know what to do with my life,” Joy said. “The very first song I remember singing was ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry. It was a month before my freshman year at Belmont, so I was like, ‘What if I did music auditions?’”
As a senior commercial voice major, Joy tries to make music that helps people forget about the problems in the world and just enjoy themselves.
“I remember my freshman year seeing Sound Proof perform at Urban Pop, and after that I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this,’” said Joy.
This showcase will Joy’s first time performing entirely original songs.
“It’s nerve racking, but what other better stage to perform it on than the Urban Pop stage?”
Joy is thankful for his dad’s support and commitment to helping his son succeed, he said.
He’s also excited to perform with his band, who has full confidence in. Joy will be joined on stage by Daniel Huston on keys, David Lloyd on bass, Adam Kramer on guitar and Caleb Lee on drums. His performance will also feature Ethan Thomas, Chandler Booth and Abby Claybaugh as background vocalists.
“I’m actually performing with some of my best friends,” said Joy.
Along with performing in this showcase, Joy will also singing in the Commercial Showcase in February, he said.
“Hold on to your wig. It’s going to be sick.”
Lovr. and OhStoutt
Written by Kendall Crawford
Freshmen Dylan Ellis and Owen Stoutt, known better as Lovr. and OhStoutt, want to give the Belmont community a chance to forget their worries at Saturday’s Urban Pop Showcase.
“We want people to loosen up,” said Stoutt. “We want them to sing even if they don’t know the words, and dance just because.”
For Ellis, music has always been a part of life. He started playing guitar in rock bands, but then became infatuated with pop songwriting.
“I love rock music still, but I wanted to do something different,” said Ellis. “I’ve listened to pop music all my life and I think that’s what I am meant to do with music.”
Stoutt, on the other hand, always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. It wasn’t until he saw Ed Sheeran in concert that he realized he wanted to pursue music, Stoutt said.
“He does this thing where he loops stuff,” said Stoutt. “When I saw him doing that on his Plus tour, I was like ‘I want to be able to do that.’”
The two music business majors’ collaboration began when they met at Belmont orientation. The combination of Stoutt’s beats with Ellis’ lyrics led to a natural partnership.
“We’re working together right now and we have something special. We want to take it somewhere we can establish ourselves in the industry and go from there,” said Stoutt.
The duo’s musical influences span a wide variety of artists and genres. The duo takes inspiration from Post Malone, One Republic and LANY, among others.
The Urban Pop Showcase will be their live debut.
“The live audition was our first time performing in front of a crowd together. We were pretty nervous, but once we started it just flowed,” said Ellis.
“We had so much fun,” Stoutt added. “Once it started, we didn’t even think about the people in front of us.”
Photos by Luke Rogers, courtesy of CEMB Showcase Series