Campus; an underground music community.
The University of Rhode Island has a student body filled with all sorts of talents. These skill sets range from throwing a football and hula hooping on the quad, to drinking and starting riots.
There is, however, a community on campus who have a unique musical talent which cannot be ignored. One of these such musicians is Kayleen Wright.
“I started playing the guitar in 2008,” said Wright. “I first fell in love with the guitar at my church. I would sit really close to the guitar player and found myself always watching him. I was interested at the time but I never really started playing until one of my neighbors gave me their guitar”
Wright is a sophomore studying education at URI. She is originally from New York but now lives in Rhode Island year round. Even though Wright is not a part of the music program, she is part of a unique community of musicians who all attend the university.
“When someone tells me they’re a musician I always try to find time to play with them. There’s a huge community of people who all jam together on campus and it’s a ton of fun. It’s really surprising to find out that the shy kid in one of your classes can belt Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” better than the original track. Somehow we all find a way to meet each other and connect through what we do musically. I really think that this is a unique characteristic of the URI community,” said Wright.
Many musicians find it difficult to get involved in a new community. Not everyone is born with nerves of steel which allow them to put themselves out there or play in front of people. Wright believes that it is important to put yourself in “concert” like situations until you’re comfortable.
“I go to open mic nights at place in East Greenwich mainly to get involved with different musicians,” she said. “I don’t want to or have a reason to promote myself. I go to play with other musician who are passionate about music. It’s a diverse crowd who shows up to play. There are people like me and then there are artists who may have had a song on the radio. The best way to improve is to be around people who are better than you.”
Almost every musician has an artist who inspires them. Wright’s admiration of Taylor Swift borders on near obsession.
“I am very passionate about Taylor Swift,” said Wright. “I grew up listening to her and followed her music since I was little. She has always been consistent with putting out content and I always find a way to connect to her lyrics. I would like to be her friend and play music with her. That’s pretty much what it boils down to. She’s inspired me and I would like to thank her.”
The community of musicians at URI are hidden in plain sight. Most individuals find themselves connecting through word of mouth or through mutual friends. There is a huge amount of talent in this community which is more than willing to share their knowledge.
“I think that music is so special. It is a medium that speaks to everyone,” said Wright.