As the Best of the Best Showcase opens its doors Saturday evening, the main acts will always be the winners of the four showcases throughout the year. But don’t think those artists will be the only ones performing in the Curb Event Center that night. Four additional singer-songwriters who won ASCAP Writers’ Nights throughout the school year will also take the stage to perform some of their own work. The Vision profiled three of this year’s songwriters and found out how they made it to Belmont and the Best of the Best set list.
“Soulful folkcoustic jazzgrass pop” is not a normal genre most artists would subscribe themselves to.
Good thing senior Natalie Royal isn’t going for normal.
Since a young age, writing has been a part of Royal’s life.
“I think I started writing as soon as I could speak,” said Royal.
At 12 years old, Royal taught herself guitar. As soon as she was able to put her voice to an instrument, she said, her future in the music business became serious.
“I won a talent show when I was 13 in South Carolina,” said Royal. “After I beat out people 10 to 30 years older than me, it really hit me.”
Her music eventually is what brought her to Nashville, but Belmont was what made it home.
“I fell in love the moment I stepped on campus,” she said.
Winning a January ASCAP Writer’s Night and earning a part in the Best of the Best showcase was a major victory for Royal, four years after she started striving for a bid.
“It is a true testament to always getting back up even when you get knocked down,” said Royal.
Last April, Royal released her first full-length album titled “Savor.” It earned a spot on the iTunes top 20 “New and Noteworthy” chart. She is currently working on her follow-up album which will be released next spring.
Coffee and music. Together.
Sounds like any Nashville hipster’s dream.
It’s also the dream of writer’s night winner Kelsea Reddick, who wants to use her love of music and her entrepreneurship degree to create a musically-influenced coffee shop of her own.
Riddick started writing songs when she was 10 years old, about the same time she started playing guitar.
“It helped me express myself,” said Riddick. “I’ve never been very good at verbalizing how I feel and what I think.”
Writing became more important part of her life, which only grew with the support of her family, she said.
“The first song I wrote my mom actually paid me,” she said.
Her pivotal moment in songwriting came when the sophomore she realized that her music could convey her emotions, whether it was towards relationships, friendships or whatever else was going on in her life.
She came to Belmont originally as a songwriting major, but changed to entrepreneurship to help her with her coffee shop dreams.
She continued working with music, and that hard work paid off when she won a writer’s night in October.
“It’s such an honor, I’m so appreciative of the opportunity,” said Riddick. “ Even though it’s just one song, I’m just so excited to even be playing that.”
All it takes to play a country song is knowing two chords.
As soon as sophomore music business major Matt Enik learned them both, he started playing and hasn’t put his guitar down since.
“I learned to play at 11, and once I learned to play two chords I started writing for my own,” said Enik.
Music had always been a part of who he was and a part of his life, he said. Songwriting just evolved into his passion as well.
“It kinda just happened,” said Enik.
At 12 years old, he started to perform with a middle school country band.
That was just the start for him.
Music is what brought Enik from Parkersburg, W.V. to Nashville, and didn’t learn about Belmont until his junior year of high school.
At first he didn’t think a degree in music would be taken very seriously, which explains his choice to pursue music business.
Songwriting was still on his mind, though. And it was his own music which earned him a spot in the Best of the Best showcase Saturday.
“It’s a great way to get people to know who you are,” said Enik. “It’s still a great way even if it is just one acoustic song.”
This summer, Enik will tour through America’s heartland in the “Matt Enik Independent We Stand Summer 2013 Tour.”
Such an endeavor may seem nervewracking for Enik, but he always reminds himself to minimize the stress.
“Relax with it,” he said. “It’s not going to make or break you.”