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Sharing the Stage: The Spotlight and the Camaraderie

Photo of Seattle Academy Students Performing at Sharing the Stage in Seattle WA

                                                      Group photo from June 2022 show, Cafe Racer (photo: Todd Rotkis)

“We think that performing is a very big deal, especially because we are so young,” says Kyra Wallace, Seattle Academy sophomore and member of the band Room 403. Kyra and her bandmates are part of the Sharing the Stage club, a program that allows high school students to open for professional artists at local concerts in the greater Seattle area. Started by the Dean of Arts Faculty Fred Strong in 2010—first as a performance/mentorship project and later as a singer/songwriter club—Sharing the Stage has lined up student bands to open for the likes of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tacocat, The Black Tones, Visqueen, and most recently Brittany Davis.

“I completely credit the evolution in my performance to the heightened exposure to local live music that I’ve gotten since joining Sharing the Stage,” says Calvin Lundin, SAAS senior who has performed in five Sharing the Stage shows. For many students like Calvin, and for first-time performers, opportunities to open on a professional club stage for named artists are few and far between. First, because of their age; high school students aren’t often invited to perform outside of school venues. Secondly, because of connections. The music scene in Seattle is large and historied, with an established network of artists, venues, and followings. It is thanks to Sharing the Stage’s connections within the industry that students are able to get a spot on stage, under the lights, to perform for live audiences. 

“It’s very gratifying how many musicians in Seattle are willing and excited to participate in this program,” Fred said. “Twenty different headlining bands over the years and 28 individuals who have served as mentors. And every time, the musicians say, ‘I wish there had been a program like this when I was starting out.’ Given that, the program’s reputation spreads by word of mouth.”

The latest show in the series, Home for the Holidays II, featured a lineup of all Sharing the Stage alumni, performers who played in a show(s) as high school students and who are now in college or out in the working world. SAAS alumni in this show were Nat Rezek ’19, Savannah Parker ’20, Delphine Casper ’22, and Henry Roseman ’22. Calvin Lundin also played in this show.


SPOTLIGHT ON… MELDROE

Handle: @meldroe
Band members: Kaya Cisneros, Lauren Hjelle, Lucas Courbois, Calvin Lundin
Original songs performed: Pimped Up Chimp, Diet Smudge, Water Watered Down, Untitled

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

meldroe (@meldroe) • Instagram photos and videos

 


Q: What motivated you to join Sharing the Stage? 

Calvin: I played my first Sharing the Stage show in my freshman year, which was before the club aspect of Sharing the Stage even existed. The club is a weekly group that meets and shares music — we pick weekly songwriting prompts, but people are free to share whatever they’ve been working on. This club began during lockdown as a way for us to still have something to do while all the venues were closed. This was super pivotal for me since I had always thought of myself only as a drummer and saw being a songwriter as an unattainable dream. Having a push every week forced me to write and share music, which quickly became something I really loved doing. I continue to see this happening with each new member that joins, which never gets old. I love watching members slowly come out of their shell and grow as artists, which is the main reason I continue to run the club. Even as the club leader, I still feel like I grow as a musician and artist at each meeting because of what I’m able to learn from all the amazing work by the club members. [Calvin has been a part of the club leadership for two years.]

Q: Do you feel more comfortable on stage since you joined Sharing the Stage? 

Calvin: At my first Sharing the Stage show in freshman year which was at Chop Suey, I remember keeping my head down pretty much the entire time I was playing — so much so that a photographer commented on it when I was talking to him in the crowd. I was a huge jazzhead at the time and cared a lot more about playing well than actually performing, which just made me look super reserved onstage. But at this last show with Brittany Davis, I ended up knocking over my ride cymbal and an overhead mic at the end of our set before almost falling over the front of my drums because I was so overtaken by the crazy energy of our performance (and the mosh in the crowd). Right now, the stage is where I feel most at home — nothing compares to having a room full of eyes on you as you leave every last bit of yourself under the club lights. I completely credit the evolution in my performance to the heightened exposure to local live music that I’ve gotten since joining Sharing the Stage. 

Q: What is the significance of opening for artists, as a high schooler, on a professional stage?

Calvin: One thing I’ve noticed being a young person who’s active in the music scene is that a lot of people older than you won’t take you seriously, no matter how hard you work or how good you are at your instrument. Being able to open for professional artists takes this aspect away because you don’t have the same performer/audience or teacher/student dynamic anymore — you’re both just musicians playing on the same bill. I still 100% believe in learning from more experienced artists and paying your dues as a young musician, but it’s really nice to have this kind of musical environment that isn’t so academic and cutthroat. Learning about music in that way is just as important as learning from a class or teacher. I know a lot of great young musicians that still have no experience with performing outside of their school/other academic settings because they don’t have a resource like Sharing the Stage. For me, one of the coolest parts about the program is seeing the newer bands who might be playing their very first show get to open for an established band at a real venue. I can definitely tell it’s a huge moment for them, which just cements in my mind how important this kind of thing is for young musicians.


SPOTLIGHT ON… Room 403

Handle: @roo.m403_
Band members: Kyra Wallace (sophomore) on vocals, Forrest Campbell (sophomore) and Keegan Stringfellow on guitar, Marcus Versaw on drums, Lukas Rey covering on bass guitar
Original songs performed: Mother’s Day, Waves

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

room_403 (@roo.m403_) • Instagram photos and videos

 


Q: Was this your first time on stage outside of school?

Kyra: All of our members have performed on stage with other ensembles, but this concert was the first time we got to perform together as a band and also the first time we got to showcase our original songs to anyone. It was an amazing first show. I would add thanks to Sharing the Stage and all the work they put into the show and thanks to Brittany Davis for headlining the show.

Q: Did you ever think you would be singing with an established artist? 

Kyra: We were never really sure what we expected when it came to being able to perform. It was amazing to be able to open for an established singer — I myself didn't see that coming. I'm glad we had the opportunity to, and we are all so grateful for everyone involved for creating that opportunity. 

Q: What is the significance of opening for artists, as a high schooler, on the big stage?

Kyra: Obviously performing and opening for an established artist was an amazing opportunity, which we hope will create more future opportunities. At the end of the day, I feel we really believe in the music. As a band and as individuals, we are so passionate about music and we love making it. We loved hearing the other acts and experiencing the community; just watching people get on the dance floor and enjoy what we made, what we put our time and passion into, paid off more than we could have ever imagined.


SPOTLIGHT ON… Monkey Thoughts

Handle: @monkeythoughtsmusic
Band members: Grace Hopperstad (junior) on guitar/singer, Parker Schweickert (junior) on drums/singer, Anjali Mignone (junior) on bass
Original songs performed: Call Me, Brain Worm


Q: Tell us about your band?

Grace: Our band is quite new but in it, Anjali has picked up the bass, Parker plays drums and sings, and I play guitar and sing. We are all multi-instrumentalist musicians though, so each song has a little different configuration and we're not stuck in those roles. We all love to write songs and especially collaborate on the different steps. For example, Parker will bring in some lyrics, and we'll work out a chorus on guitar and improv through the verses altogether. We don't have a ton of songs, but of the ones we've finished, they're a group effort every step of the way. 

Q: Was this your first time on stage outside of school?

Grace: I have been on stage several times in my life, but opening for General Mojos (Cafe Racer, June 2022) was special because of the preparation that went into it. We were able to meet Dune Butler, the bandleader and bassist, and he listened to each band or solo artist's set and mentored us. It was awesome to meet him in person and gain some of his wisdom, and then see him on stage with his bandmates in the zone. I find the mentorship experience during Sharing the Stage club really helpful and enjoyable. 

Q: What motivated you to join Sharing the Stage? 

Grace: I joined Sharing the Stage last year as a club participant. Parker and I were walking by the band room, where Sharing the Stage club is held, and we saw a club going on with our friends Delphine Casper and Calvin Lundin and we had to investigate. We learned it was a songwriting and music-sharing club, which was right up our alley. We sat in and heard original music from several club members, loved it, and kept coming back from there. There are several aspects of the club that I love, besides the mentorships and performances. Each week we decide on a prompt for a new song, and everyone attempts to write one for the next club meeting. When we come back the next week, people have taken the prompt and done completely different things, so every song is similar, but also different. It's so cool to see each person in the club perform their music for us in their own unique style. Some turn poems into lyrics, others emulate rap artists, and there might be a piano ballad performed in the mix. Hearing people's voices and emotions in their music is inspiring to me. 

Calvin Lundin and Grace Hopperstad are the co-leaders of the Sharing the Stage Club, and Fred Strong and Sarah Smith are the faculty advisors.

The next Sharing the Stage show is Friday, March 17, 7:30 PM at Cafe Racer.