• Lillie Burke

Musical path goes from gym to studio

Walking out of the Curb Event Center, students generally leave a Belmont basketball game with a win, a loss, or with time spent just showing school pride. But at a recent February game, freshman Erika Eenigenburg, whose stage name is Erika Raen, walked away with a unique opportunity.

“I looked up on the screen and my name was there. My phone was blowing up and people were coming up to me. I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening,” she said.

As part of a Belmont basketball promotion, students who attended at least six home basketball games had a chance of winning a free three-song EP from Oceanway Nashville. After attending 10 games, Raen won the contest and the opportunity to work with professionals that have recorded with artists like Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, George Strait and Reba McEntire.

Other than playing in her dorm room and performing at a writer’s night at Hotel Indigo and at the Curb Cafe, Raen has not yet had much exposure in Music City. She is optimistic that working with Oceanway Nashville will change that.

“I hope this EP will get my name out there and bring about new opportunities for me,” she said. “I’m really excited to have something that is professionally done, solidifying my music and who I am as an artist.”

Back home in northwest Indiana, Raen plays shows comprised of both original songs and covers. Being a singer/songwriter and playing guitar and piano, Raen found roots in country music and then set her eyes on coming to Belmont, studying music business and living in Nashville.

“I always knew I wanted to be involved in the industry in some way, whether it was in performance or the business part of it. It just seemed perfect to have this degree available and to be in this location,” she said.

As she prepares to record her three-song EP, Raen will have that chance to be involved in the music industry within her first year of living in Nashville.

“For this EP I want to find a way to incorporate traditional country with mainstream country and a David Nail, laid-back, real soulful sound,” she said. “The people at Oceanway really know what they’re doing so I think they can do that for me.”

Right now, Raen is in the process of picking out and writing songs with various songwriters on campus to prepare for her EP. Her goal is to have the selection done by the end of March. From there, the recording process will begin.

“Performance is something I will always love,” she said.

Starting with this Oceanway EP, it’s a love she wants to take advantage of.

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