Gordon Streaming | Part III: Music and Podcasts
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these songs and podcasts do not necessarily reflect those of Gordon College. We defer to readers to determine what content they feel comfortable listening to.
Musicians and podcast hosts often keep us company during our commutes to and from work. They can make household chores less tedious, distract us from the difficulties of exercising or help us enjoy the more mindless aspects of our jobs. Their songs become the soundtracks to our lives and their stories often become part of our own, playing a role in our own personal transformations and making us feel a little less alone.
So, in this final installment of the “Gordon Streaming” series, The Bell introduces you a talented group of podcast hosts, songwriters and musicians. One is a beloved professor, and the rest are Gordon alumni. Happy listening!
Genre: Religion and spirituality
Out of the Ordinary is a podcast about developing a daily life that matters. It’s co-hosted by best-selling author Lisa-Jo Baker ’98 and author Christie Purifoy. At the heart of this podcast is the belief that “the very best stories actually grow out of the soil of ordinary life.”
In their most recent episode, “Holding a Divine Anchor in the Middle of Bombs Falling,” Baker and Purifoy talk about the two years Baker lived in Kyiv, Ukraine, while her husband completed fieldwork for his Ph.D. as part of a National Security Fellowship. They also explore what it looks like to have compassion amid current events while continuing and honoring your daily life—and how we can care for our souls in the midst of heavy realities. You can listen to all episodes of Out of the Ordinary on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts.
Genre: Public theology
Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Amy Hughes is one of six co-hosts for OnScript, a biblical studies and theology podcast with over 30,000 downloads each month. On topics ranging from Origen of Alexandria to Flannery O’Connor, Hughes interviews theologians about their new books. “The point is to have a conversation that is accessible, so that research becomes accessible to a broader audience,” explains Hughes. “I remember as a graduate and undergraduate student what it was like to overhear or listen in on two of my professors having a conversation. That’s what this is.” Some of her favorite episodes include interviews with Rev. Dr. Willie James Jennings, Professor of Theology and Christian Ministries Dr. Sharon Ketcham, Father John Behr and Rev. Dr. Esther Acolatse.
Most recently, Hughes interviewed Australian theologian Ben Meyers to revisit the question, “What is a creed and what is it for?” Stay tuned for her next episode, in which she’ll interview Karen O’Donnell about her new book, The Dark Womb, and her theology of reproductive loss. You can listen to OnScript online or on any podcast platform.
Girls Just Pod to Have Fun
Genre: Society and culture
This podcast is hosted by singer-songwriter duo Jill Pickering ’04 and Kate Rapier ’04 (who you’ll read more about below). In the early episodes of the podcast, you can follow Pickering and Rapier as they “sell their belongings, hit the road, try to reignite their creativity and get fun back in their lives.” It’s a great podcast for anyone who feels stuck or is trying to move forward when life doesn’t go as planned. Some of their favorite episodes include interviews with Lauren Graham (from Gilmore Girls), Charles Esten (from Nashville and Outer Banks) and singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes. One of their listeners’ favorite episodes is called “Digging Out of the Breakdown,” in which Pickering and Rapier talk about emotional and mental health.
JM-N (featuring Joe Tounge ’11)
Genre: Electronic pop
JM-N is a musical trio based in Nashville, TN, comprised of instrumentalist, lyricist and music producer Joe Tounge ’11, singer Madison Lawrence, and sound engineer and music producer Nate Dodge. JM-N’s music appears regularly on MTV. The album Infinite was the first major project Tounge worked on as a producer, and probably the only project where listeners can experience some of Tounge’s rapping skills (on the album’s title track). Since JM-N released their first album back in 2018, Tounge has written music for David Archuleta, Spencer Crandall, Taylor Goyette, Chey Rose, the Roosevelts and more. Rumor on the street is that JM-N plans to release a new album soon. You can listen to all Tounge’s cuts on Spotify.
David Archuleta (featuring Joe Tounge ’11)
In 2019, Nate Dodge (from the band JM-N) invited Joe Tounge ’11 to help workshop a new song with David Archuleta, which became “Be That for You” (2021). Tounge wrote many of the lyrics for that song, as well as for “Beast” (2021) and “Losin’ Sleep” (2021). When asked about some of the challenges he experiences when writing lyrics for a song, he explains, “Part of the challenge is taking big ideas and putting them into something that sounds conversational. I resonate the most with songs where I think, ‘That’s how I would say that to this person in real life.’” Check out these three songs on Spotify, YouTube or wherever you stream music.
Spencer Crandall (featuring Joe Tounge ’11)
On Spencer Crandall’s Wilderness (2020), Tounge has four credits: “Say in This,” “Nothing to Do with You,” “Delete All” and “Looking for It.” The two met by accident when one of Tounge’s clients double-booked herself for a session. Instead of canceling her session with Tounge, she brought the three together to write a song. The first song Tounge workshopped with Crandall is “Say in This,” which Tounge says “. . . is a super personal song for me. It’s based on something that happened to someone that I love.” The song describes the moment a person experiences a breakup without the chance to talk about it with their loved one, capturing the hurt that comes with not being given the choice to have an honest conversation before a person takes off for good. “In a writing session with Spencer and our friend, Lauren, we came up with the hook ‘I can’t believe you’re saying this. I guess I don’t have a say in this.’” You can listen to these four songs on all digital music platforms.
Genre: Cinematic, mostly instrumental rock
Since Philip Jamieson x’01, Calvin Joss ’03 and the other founding members—Joe Vickers x’02 and the late Chris Friedrich x’02— formed Caspian in 2004, the band has played close to 900 shows in 50 countries. In 2022, they are touring Europe as an opening act for Cult of Luna. If you like what you hear, catch one of their upcoming concerts or check out their live performance on KEXP. You can also find Jamieson’s solo work on YouTube or Bandcamp.
The band’s most recent album is On Circles (2020). When asked how he’d describe the style of Caspian’s music, Jamieson says, “We don’t sing much or do solos or anything terribly flashy. We just write unconventionally structured songs.” To this, Joss adds, “Oftentimes, I describe our music as a kind of classical music, but if you imagine it being played with loud guitars, bass and drums.” Caspian’s songs are designed to engulf listeners, Jamieson explains. To get a sense of what he means, listen to “On Circles” for yourself. You can find Caspian on all digital music platforms, including Spotify and iTunes.
Genre: indie folk and pop
Big Phony is the stage name of Bobby Choy ’02, a Seoul-based songwriter originally from New York City. Before coming to Gordon, he graduated from LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts, the highly selective art school in NYC that inspired the movie musical “Fame” and graduated celebrities like Robert de Niro, Jennifer Aniston, Awkwafina, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Che and Ansel Elgort.
Since graduating from Gordon, Choy’s music has appeared on various film and television soundtracks. In 2011, he wrote the lyrics to “To Find My Way,” which was sung by Andrea Bocelli for the Korean film My Way. In recent years, he wrote and performed all of the songs in the motion picture soundtrack for the movie Music and Reality (2020), which is based on the true story of how he moved to Korea and met his wife. While the movie isn’t available to stream in the United States, you can enjoy some music videos from the soundtrack. For starters, check out “Hanging On a Thread” and “Ready or Not.”
Many listeners are drawn to Choy’s music for his gentle voice, honest lyrics and emotional vulnerability. He’s performed over 50 live shows in South Korea and several times at the South by Southwest Film Festival. You can find his music on Spotify and iTunes.
Jill and Kate
Genre: Acoustic pop
You may know Jill Pickering ’04 and Kate Rapier ’04 as Kelly Clarkson’s backup singers. They toured with Clarkson for six years after she stumbled upon the duo while they were performing “Behind These Hazel Eyes” at a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles. Since Pickering and Rapier met at the Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard almost 20 years ago, they’ve recorded 42 songs and seven albums. Reflecting on their two decades of performing together, Pickering and Rapier write, “It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost 20 years since we were walking around the Gordon campus working on our harmonies, but we have been incredibly blessed to have been able to do this for so long. We have been able to see the world and have learned so much from other people God has placed in our path along the way.” You can listen to their most recent release, “Nashville,” and all their songs on all digital music platforms.
While you’re at it, you might want to also check out their TEDx Talk, “Dare to Dive into the Unknown,” in which Pickering and Rapier perform a few original songs and share about their experience of selling all their material possessions in 2018 to forge a new path.
Shanell Alyssa is the stage name of Shanell Percy ’14, a Boston-area musician and music therapist who uses music as a medium for social change. In a 2020 interview with The Bell, she explained, “I really see music as the gateway to the human heart in many ways. When I’m performing, I try to get people to sing along with the chorus because I think there’s something about including people vocally and making the music participatory that’s beneficial in getting the message across.”
In 2019, Percy was among WBUR’s top 21 picks from Massachusetts for NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Contest. In recent years, she’s performed at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA, and with Sofar Sounds, an international company that stages secret gigs and intimate concerts for emerging artists. Her most recent song, “Witness,” is one she co-wrote with Boston rapper Caleb McCoy (who happens to be the son of Director of Worship Bil Mooney McCoy). “Witness” is inspired by a new book by Sheila Wise Rowe called Young, Gifted and Black: A Journey of Lament and Celebration, which “gives voice to the real-life stories of Black millennials and younger adults.”
Since her days of singing in Women’s Choir and performing at on-campus coffee houses, Sammie (Moore) Simard x’13 now sings and writes songs as a founding member of Here on Earth Worship. The band released an album in the fall of 2021 called Not to Be Shaken, which features seven original worship songs, including “Jesus I Trust in You,” which Simard wrote a few years after college. She says, “I was in my 20s and I was struggling with where God wanted me. A lot of my friends at the time were getting married, having children, making big changes and I was searching, unsure of what God was calling me to exactly.” This song, for Simard, is a prayer about trust.
It was inspired, in part, by a painting of Jesus that is familiar to many believers in the Catholic Church. It’s an image where “Jesus is portrayed with his divine mercy,” says Simard. “At the bottom of the painting are the words, “Jesus I Trust in You.” Simard explains that the refrain became a prayer she would repeat whenever she felt uncertain or anxious. “When I write worship music, it can be very vulnerable,” admits Simard. “It can be scary to put original music out there for people to pray with, but the Lord has shown me that it is important. Hearing people sing along will never get old. It reminds me of the faithfulness of God.” You can listen to Here on Earth Worship’s original music on Spotify and YouTube.