A packed crowd congregated at Harry’s Coffee House to hear original songs written and performed by Samford students as part of the Fall 2023 Songwriter Showcase. The event, held on Nov. 15, served as the culmination of a semester-long songwriting course offered by Samford’s commercial music program.
Each semester, students in the class are required to write four original songs. Afterwards, they get to choose which one of their creations to perform at the showcase, which serves as an opportunity to celebrate their hard work and share their music with others. Steven Potaczek, assistant professor of commercial music at Samford, explained the process of songwriting for the students.
“Everyone’s approach to songwriting is different. Some students start first with just lyrics, some students start with a melody, some just approach the whole thing right from the jump,” said Potaczek. “And it differs from everybody, so we’re not as interested in teaching students necessarily what the best process is. We talk to them a lot about what makes the best songs, how do we get to that point, what does revision look like, and editing, and things like that.”
In total, 14 original songs were performed at the showcase, with musical styles ranging from slow and soulful solo ballads to more fast-paced, upbeat pieces.
This marks the fourth year that Samford has had a commercial music major, a curriculum which was approved in May of 2020. The songwriting class is just one out of an entire curriculum tailored to students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry, whether that be music business, music production, songwriting or performance.
“A number of these songs came just out of their own personal experience, but some of them came from exercises that I gave them throughout the semester,” said Potaczek. “One exercise is to go on an ‘inspiration quest’ where they’re looking for inspiration for their next song. Another one was ‘write down something that you wish you could say to someone but you’re too scared to ever say it.’ And then they trade different things as it relates to that prompt and they write a song based around it.”