By Katie Webb
On Thursday, September 15 The Netherlands Café was filled with the sweet sound of acoustic guitar and soulful serenades. The Hofstra Concerts venue had a small crowd last week, but it was a captive audience. Three musicians performed, each promising in their own respects.
The night opened with a few songs strummed by Hofstra Student Ryan Sinnott. His ease on stage, and soft, subtly powerful vocals on his cover of The Girls song "City and Colour," set the tone of the night perfectly. The other two performers in the lineup echoed Sinnott's style following him with poignant songs of their own.
Do not be fooled by the quiet demeanor and stoic temperament of Timothy Jean. Perhaps his soft-spoken manner is all an effort to conserve energy for the stage, because the moment he walked up there he came to life. With a voice that could redefine the word "soul" Jean's voice literally turned heads and summoned a larger crowd. He sang Christian gospel, which he began pursuing, because he "gave [his] life to Christ in the fourth grade, and grew up in a musical family."
Jean is inspired by music of the 20's and 30's, and his voice reflects the jazzy tone of that era. Jean's true talent on the stage, while he is an excellent guitar and keyboard player, is the emotional rawness he emotes. When he sang the lyrics, "taking a stand and leaving sin behind," the sincerity in his voice was notable. They were so entranced by his aptly named original song "Love," which is about the love God gave him, he could have begun using blasphemous expletives and it is doubtful they would have noticed.
Usually, there is only so much religious music the average person can take before over dosing on the messages of morality and spirituality. However, the headline performer of the night proved otherwise, and showed that gospel can be appreciated universally.
Peter Sing, a senior at Hofstra, was the next and final artist of the night. He was sure to inform me, with a coy smile, that Sing is his given name and not a stage name.
Some religious music can be heavy handed and preachy. However, Sing manages artfully to express his steadfast spiritual beliefs, while singing both covers and original material that are thematically common enough that anyone could enjoy the lyrics about love, doubt, and empowerment.
When he performed P.J. Morton's "Mountains and Molehills" every word could be felt. After that song it became apparent from the audiences enthusiastic uproar of applause that they had truly gathered to hear him. Even before singing John Legend's song "So High," Sing's voice immediately reminded me of this esteemed artist. His voice has a beautiful range and depth to it.
Although Sing's voice was undoubtedly impressive, it was not until he sang and played Indie Arie's song "Beautiful Surprise" acoustically that his emotionally verver came through. In between playing covers and originals Sing made note of why these religiously themed songs held such gravity for him. Once he said, "People become hurt by religion and become disillusioned, but god is still there." His candor is a large part of his charm, and what made his performance so heartfelt. Anyone interested in hearing Sing should look for a copy of his newly released lp titled "Humbly Yours" online.
Perhaps, soulful music is not for all of us, but if the fear of trying something new is the only deterrent don't fret. This genre merely plays with the same classic themes of life as other genres, but with the occasional added bonus of a halleluiah chorus. In all honesty, if a night of passionately performed music for free on campus is not worth saying Amen for, than I don't know what is.