Courtesy of Hannah Lee
Yale student musicians often showcase their work at venues on campus and beyond, but the coronavirus pandemic flatlined live performances for the duration of the semester. This story is part of a series of articles featuring recent student-released music to provide a platform for discovery aside from a stage.
Sharon Ahn “i guess i kinda miss you”
Sharon Ahn ’23 dabbles in a bit of everything. Ahn, a Computing and the Arts major on the music track, plays classical piano but has also experimented with musical theater, guitar, ukulele, percussion and viola. Recently, she wrote and released her first single, “i guess i kinda miss you.”
“I have to admit that my interests in music are a bit all over the place,” Ahn said. “I’d say my Yale education has influenced my music in that it’s just opened me up to a lot of different things.”
At Yale, Ahn experimented with the carillon and organ. She also directed musical theater shows, worked as a collaborative pianist at Interlochen Arts Camp and “briefly dabbled in DJ-ing.” She serves as music director and pianist for improv group Just Add Water, a role she credits with exposing her to a variety of musical genres.
Ahn is heavily influenced by British composer and musician Jacob Collier, as well as DIY bedroom pop artists — musicians who work with basic equipment to create music, sometimes from their bedrooms.
Ahn wrote her first song during what she describes as “quarantine sadboi hours.” The song includes quirky reworkings of common sounds, such as Ahn snapping an AirPods case shut and biting into a kernel of popcorn.
“I was going to send someone an ‘I miss you’ message during quarantine but decided to write a song about him instead,” Ahn said. “‘i guess i kinda miss you’ explores the feeling of missing someone enough that you can’t get them out of your head but not enough to actually press send [on the text message].”
Ahn hopes to pursue music after college. She said that writing this song reinforced her passion for music.
Amara. “Channel Love”
“Teach me how / to channel your love,” sings Amara Mgbeike ’22 in her debut song “Channel Love,” which was released July 22. Mgbeike expresses the truth of love as a “remedy for all.”
Drawing inspiration from church services and a love for jazz, R&B and neo-soul, Mgbeike wrote the initial version of the song in less than an hour in March. She had no intentions of releasing it as a single, but the pandemic and protests over the summer changed her mind.
“I felt like God placed this song on my heart so I could release it at a time such as this,” Mgbeike said. “If my truth is God’s truth, then I’m going to write my truth.”
When Mgbeike participated in the Elm City Vineyard Church’s Artist Circle, she was struck by a poem written by fellow church member Dan Midgett. The phrase “channel love” resonated with her, since she felt this message of sharing love was particularly necessary for people struggling right now.
“My song tells a story about people who may have been hurt by loving too much,” she explained.
In her song, Mgbeike asks her listeners to channel different sources of love, instead of relying on their own ability to love. Drawing from a personal journey of finding spirituality, she recalls a desire for a higher, divine kind of love from God.
“Teach me how / to channel your love / Baptize me in an ocean of molten gold / Jesus, fill me with You / I’ll be a vessel for You,” Mgbeike sings.
While she does not identify exclusively as a Christian artist, Mgbeike describes herself as “an artist who is Christian.” She freely embraces her religious background in her music.
Mgbeike’s time as the musical director of Shades at Yale gave her the technical and compositional skills to produce and release “Channel Love.” Mgbeike’s creative efforts can be viewed in a vlog she recorded in August.
Mgbeike wants to channel love both through her new single and in her home community. Through a drive called Project Channel Love, Mgbeike hopes to donate proceeds from the sale of “Channel Love” merchandise toward combating food insecurity in Houston, where she is currently located.
The musician’s hope is for her listeners — from Houston to New Haven to South Africa — to be reminded of the necessity of love.
“The only answer to all of this, and I don’t mean to sound like a hippie — is love. How can we dismantle systems of racial oppression without love? It’s the remedy for it all,” Mgbeike said.
Project Channel Love includes a music video which will premiere on Friday at 8 p.m.
Sofía Campoamor “Parts Apart”
Even though Sofía Campoamor ’20 plays piano, guitar and ukulele, she said her voice is her “primary instrument.”
In high school, Campoamor was passionate about musical theater, choir and a cappella. At Yale, she became the first woman admitted to the Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest collegiate a cappella group. She majored in music, participated in the on-campus a cappella scene and sang in the Institute of Sacred Music’s Battell Chapel Choir.
“I ended up studying music because I realized that I just loved writing songs and that I wouldn’t have to write a paper for my thesis,” Campoamor said. “I thought … there’s this thing that I know I’m going to do when no one else is making me do it. That’s when I started trying to pursue it academically.”
During her senior year, Campoamor worked on a songwriting project that she recently released as an EP titled “Parts Apart.” The album comprises five songs and touches on three types of distance: physical, emotional and temporal.
The songs “focus on small moments … images, themes,” Campoamor explained. Even though she wrote drafts of the songs before the pandemic, Campoamor said she had already been “reflecting on distance in a lot of ways.”
Campoamor has spent the past few months working as a field organizer for a presidential campaign in Michigan. Still, she set a goal to write something every day, even during quarantine.
“I have very little time to write, but I know it’s a part of myself I want to protect,” Campoamor said.
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