Courtesy of Sofia Campoamor

For her senior project in music, Sofía Campoamor ’20 has been creating an album of original songs about themes of distance, change and love. During social distancing, these songs have taken on new meaning.

“It’s been kind of cool, and a little bit frightening,” Campoamor said. 

Before Yale announced that students would not return to campus after spring break, Campoamor planned to hold three concerts in the Saybrook Underbrook Theater to showcase the songs from her album. The concert was set to feature many other student musicians.

After the semester moved online, Campoamor still wanted to maintain the community she hoped for in a live show on campus. On April 10, Campoamor held an online concert on Facebook featuring her live performance and videos of her friends performing covers of her songs. Roughly 120 audience members tuned in. 

According to Campoamor, she asked friends to film covers because she wanted them to “take ownership of the whole song,” in order to “showcase what each musician was going to bring to that music, and how their presence changes the music for the better.”

Emil Beckford ’20 said he appreciated the freedom and trust Campoamor gave to the people participating. Beckford performed a cover of “Breathe breathe breathe,” a song Campoamor wrote in her junior year. Beckford, whose musical style tends toward R&B and hip hop, said he brought elements of his own style to the song, which was originally a piano ballad.

“In the midst of everything that was happening, that concert was just a moment of bliss for me,” Beckford said. 

In 2018, Campoamor became the first woman to join the Whiffenpoofs — the world’s oldest collegiate a cappella group. Jacob Miller ’20, a fellow member in her tap class, said Campoamor’s acceptance to the Whiffenpoofs inspired many people.

Campoamor said her time with the Whiffenpoofs was an “incredible year of friendship.” The group spent a year touring across the world, and built a “community that relied on trust and caring for each other.” Performing in front of diverse audiences and focusing on perfecting one repertoire helped her grow as a musician, Campoamor said.

“She was definitely a positive force in the group, and for the group’s trajectory in the future,” Beckford said.

Before joining the Whiffenpoofs, Campoamor was a member of Mixed Company — the first all-gender a cappella group at Yale –– and served as the group’s music director in her junior year. Miller and Beckford, both past members of Mixed Company, noted Campoamor’s versatile vocal range. Campoamor sang Soprano 1 in Mixed Company, and Tenor 1 in the Whiffenpoofs.

“I just have a tendency to melt into her voice whenever she’s singing,” Beckford said. 

Miller said Campoamor’s live performance expertise helped Mixed Company expand their live performance repertoire. In the year Campoamor served as music director, the group learned to perform many of the songs on their studio album. According to Miller, songs arranged for recording are often difficult to recreate before a live audience. Campoamor’s vision for live performance and “great ability to reshape things” helped bring the songs to life onstage.

Both Miller and Beckford highlighted Campoamor’s talent for songwriting. Beckford said he is always comfortable going to her with his musical ideas. She deeply understands how different elements of the songwriting process work together, and is “great at getting into the headspace of a piece of music,” Beckford said.

“There are few people in the world who can write lyrics the way that she does,” Miller said. 

The world’s move online disrupted many of Campoamor’s plans for the future, such as her final recording plans for her album, originally set to take place in a studio in New Haven. Still, she plans to continue working on the album, and release demo versions of the songs during the summer. She hopes to return to the studio soon, where she will work with a professional mixer and release more polished versions of her music.

“I don’t know what it will look like — but I want to be writing songs,” Campoamor said.

Carrie Zhou | pinyi.zhou@yale.edu