Rowan students hit the Chamberlain Student Center, grabbed some popcorn, and took a seat for a night of music and poetry from their peers. Held on Oct. 3, this was the second Prof’s Spotlight of the year, an event held on the first Monday of every month.
Any Rowan student can perform or simply come out and catch some unique displays of talent.
The lineup consisted of soul-singer alum Kaitlin Shaginaw, slam poet Brianna Roland, ’90s alternative-inspired Joon Kim, a trumpeting/drumming/strumming act dubbed the “Gazebo Trio,” and indie singer-songwriter Dylan Walker.
The lights were dimmed as Shaginaw took to the stage for the first performance of the night.
A Rowan alum, Shaginaw currently works in the Chamberlain Student Center. Her love of singing began in the fourth grade and followed her all the way through Rowan’s undergraduate vocal performance major.
When asked to describe her musical style, she used the word “soulful” which echoed her performance of Etta James’s “At Last.” Her set also contained Joan Jett and Maroon 5, showcasing a wide range of vocal talent.
“I really love Adele,” Shaginaw said when asked about her heroes.
This choice makes sense, as Adele is the modern embodiment of the soul music Shaginaw has come to adore.
Brianna Roland, a freshman law and justice major, performed an act with no musical accompaniment but with tons of emotion: slam poetry.
Although she has no single favorite poet, she draws immense influence from Poetry Jam and Louder Than a Bomb, two poetry organizations. Roland started her poetic journey writing raps.
“I started writing raps and little stuff like that my sophomore year of high school,” she said. “My school began slam poetry that same year, and a teacher encouraged me to try it out after reading my raps.”
“A Truth From a Liar,” Roland’s original poem, was inspired by her adoptive mother’s reading of a poem about her own upbringing. Her mother’s candidness about the touchy subject inspired Roland to open up about it in her poetry.
The “Gazebo Trio” proved to energize the room with only a trumpet, snare drum, acoustic guitar and some smooth vocals.
The group’s name was fitting. They are three freshmen who met playing their respective instruments in the gazebo outside of Willow. Their set-list spanned decades, from the ‘71 classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” to modern pop’s “Say Something.”
The trio’s vocalist/guitarist is Anis El Cortbawi, who came to the United States from Lebanon to major in music industry, a program not offered in his home country.
He found Rowan online, thought it seemed affordable, and made the brave move.
He is thankful that he met his band mates, drummer Chris Miller and trumpeter Jessa Saint Laurent. Cortbawi revealed the reason he began playing music back in Lebanon.
“It’s a great way to pick up girls,” he said.
Walker, a music industry and technologies major, was the last act of the night.
He mentioned his gratitude to the audience for staying late to catch his performance. His first song was one he helped write called “Dizzy on the Come Down.”
Love, either found or lost, seemed to be the dominant theme of his songs, which are not the standard sappy hits.
Walker wants to “make music that is genuine and has meaning.” He accomplishes this by performing original songs that feature introspective lyrics and raw emotion.
“I actually became interested in music after seeing Drake Bell playing guitar on ‘Drake and Josh,’” he said. “I asked for my first guitar that Christmas and have been playing ever since.”
His biggest influence is Evan Weiss, a Cherry Hill native who moved to Chicago and made it big in the music world.
Prof’s Spotlight continues to highlight Rowan’s performers and artists every month. With the next event slated for Nov. 7, audience members and performers alike can rest assured that there’s a lot more in store at this classic Rowan event.
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