Ambitious Artists Chase After Their Aspirations
Hey there all you music majors! Or those even relatively interested in music. Did you know that NCU has put some bands/artists out into the world of music? Some of these past alumni include Ryan Stevenson, Paul Wright of Rootdown, Christian Kinyon and Ethan Souers from Family Dynamic, and Cameron Robertson from Eternal Covenant. Some have become popular in the Christian music scene, while others are still on their way to fame. Yet, no matter where they are in their journey, it’s pretty awesome to hear of NCU alumni and past students who are chasing their dreams.
Ryan Stevenson began playing worship music around the age of 18 and from there started to play for camps, mission trips, and youth groups. While attending Northwest Christian College, he and Paul Wright formed a musical duo and it was when he decided to pursue a career in music. “I knew I wanted to pursue a career in during my freshman year at NCC! I formed a band with my friend and fellow student Paul Wright and we played together for 5 years.”
Eventually, TobyMac’s attention was drawn to Stevenson and he was signed onto TobyMac’s record label, Gotee Records. They wrote the song Speak Life together. Stevenson claims that hard work got him where he is today, “I got to where I am now through many years and countless hours of extreme dedication and hard work.” By his experience, he advises aspiring musicians to be completely dedicated to their music. “I always tell people who are pursuing music to know and believe in your heart that it’s something you’re actually called to do. There’s nothing more miserable and more defeating than pursuing something that you’re not supposed to be doing. You have to be in it for the long haul! Be ready to plow and grind. There’ll be seasons of joy, but there will also be seasons of doubt and hopelessness! It’s all about the journey, and each season and experience is very important to the entire story! Stay the course! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SONG!!!! At the end of the day, nothing else matters if you don’t have songs that are connecting with people!”
Stevenson’s former partner, Paul Wright, who now plays with Rootdown, was also an NCU alumnus. Just as Stevenson did, Wright attended when NCU was still Northwest Christian College, and pursued a degree in communications. He also was signed onto Gotee Records and has made an appearance in TobyMac’s songs Welcome to Diverse City and Renovating Diverse City. He has also been featured on CD’s with Falling Up and Shawn McDonald. Aside from those achievements, he has a solo project and he is the lead vocalist for Rootdown. Rootdown, in which Kinyon and Souers perform, has also made many accomplishments. Their song Taking Over Me made it in the top fifteen on Air1 Radio’s chart. Their album “Summer of Love” reached number six on the iTunes top reggae albums chart.
Outside of Rootdown, Kinyon and Souers are involved in their own band. Family Dynamic had its start when Kinyon and band member, Dan Spangler, started playing together in fifth grade. In high school, they snagged Souers as their bassist. Currently they are playing with Jackson Michelson, a former Rootdown member, travelling and playing shows. Their goals for the next year are to record another album and play as many shows as possible. They are booked to play this summer at the Northwest Creation Festival Music Tournament. There will be 15-20 bands playing and the winner gets to play on the main stage. Then they play against all the other winners from the other creation festivals. The next year, the overall winner gets to play at all of the creation festivals. This is a very exciting opportunity and a good chance to spread the word about their band.
Kinyon says his time at NCU was foundational to what he is doing now with his music career. He always knew, even from a young age, that he wanted to pursue a career in music. While attending NCU, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in music industry, graduating in 2013. Kinyon said, “I lacked an uplifting community to be involved in before that. At NCU I got to focus a lot more on music. I got the opportunity to play in chapel. NCU being a small school was nice because you knew everyone and people weren’t afraid to encourage you.”
He really appreciated that the professors took him seriously, knowing that he took his music seriously. Lance Beaumont, previous Director for the Music Department, really pushed him further. “He was really great because he just really kicked my butt and motivated me to practice more.” Kinyon’s advice to students currently pursuing a music degree or a future career in music was the same as what Beaumont taught him: practice every day. “Grab the bull by the horns. Your education is what you make of it. Don’t ever turn down an opportunity to play and network, network, network.”
Cameron Robertson, a former NCU student, is the lead vocalist in his band Eternal Covenant. He started his band in high school with some friends and since they started getting serious about 4 or 5 years ago, evolved into what it is today. They are a heavy metal/screaming band with a mission of reaching those interested in that genre and presenting the gospel to them. Robertson said, “The focus of the band since the beginning was we want to serve God and make him known with our music. With our style, we are able to reach a different audience of people to show them hope and love. We just want to let people know they don’t have to walk this life alone and that they are loved. People are looking for hope, so we want to show them Gods hope.”
Recently they produced a new EP with Rain City Audio which was done through lots of fundraising. Robertson says that investing money is just as important to the advancement of a band as it is to invest time. Investing money allows for a more professional look and sound which draws people in. “You have to spend money to earn money. It’s important to try and look professional in what you’re doing, this includes having a good sounding recording of your music.”
They hope to make a new story-telling EP in the next year as well as set up a West Coast Tour. This summer they hope to be playing weekenders in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. They are also playing at Joshua Fest this August. Joshua Fest will take place in Quincy, California over Labor Day weekend. Eternal Covenant will be playing along with many big name bands, including Switchfoot, Disciple, Tenth Avenue North, Family Force 5, and Kutless.
Other NCU alumni have aspired to do things in the musical world and some have succeeded. The few mentioned here range in popularity. However, all are pursuing their goals and continuing on an upward trend. Help keep their upward momentum by supporting them! Like their pages on Facebook and keep an eye out for their upcoming shows. Ryan Stevenson will be playing at Eugene First Church of the Nazarene on May 2. Tickets are available on Ryan Stevenson’s Music Site. Eternal Covenant has a show coming up at Cozmic Pizza on May 24. Family Dynamic is on a break currently, but watch for their next show.