GRAMMY Campers Face The Pressure At Open Mic Night

Alexa Spieler, GRAMMY Camp LA Student Journalist

Camper Noah Jessup performing at GRAMMY Camp - LA's Open Mic Night. Photo by Drew Schwendiman

Profusely practiced and typically exclaimed throughout the music industry: the show must go on. No matter the circumstances, no matter the time constraints — artists are expected to step foot on the stage, where they have assumed as their home, and captivate audiences day-in and day-out. GRAMMY Camp LA students were exposed to this upon their first night. Members were given the opportunity to perform in front of their peers and faculty at Open Mic Night at the on-location venue, Ground Zero.

With only a day's worth of notice and preparation, those students who deem themselves performers found themselves overwhelmed, yet excited, for the first night's event: open mic night. While everybody may be looking forward to the event itself, meeting new people, and living and breathing music — performers found themselves reacting differently to the short notice. Hayden Cone, of the Songwriting track, did not find himself overwhelmed by the pressure. Instead, he found that thanks to experience, he has adapted to such pressure. Despite the time constraints, Cone simply exclaimed, "I'm used to it," and included that he would be performing one of his originals, entitled, "Moving On."

Other campers did not find themselves as relaxed as Cone. The Audio Engineering track’s Jennings Smith hadn't even had a completed song for his performance. Deciding upon taking a risk for the open mic night, Smith stated, "I have a song that I'm working on right now. It's not really finished, but I figured I'd perform it and see if people like it." Fortunately for Smith, his risk-taking effectively worked out in his favor. Later that night, the crowd avidly enjoyed his guitar performance, disregarding how Smith claimed he hadn't completed it or the minuscule preparation time.

The pressure continued to cycle throughout various performers, as Taylor Washington of the Vocal Performance track, and Layne Putnam of the Songwriting track remained indecisive. The two  — though performing separately — could not decide whether or not they would perform in front of the audience. Though unsure of whether or not he would take the stage, Washington added that he did have a plan for his possible performance. "I'm planning to do a medley. It's just putting a bunch of different songs together. I enjoy just putting all these different songs together and singing with a simple chord progression," Washington announced briefly. Attempting to remain under control and tranquil, Washington agreed that he feels like he is "better under pressure," though "enjoys preparing" himself for a performance. On the other hand, Putnam exclaimed her desire to perform last night, but the pressure increased with the audience she remained cognizant of knowing she'd face. Vocalizing her uncertainty, Putnam exclaimed, "I have no idea what I'm going to perform! I'm scared - I don't want to play." Yet, when questioned on why exactly she didn't want to perform, she continued, "Everyone here is so talented. I just get scared and I've even performed in front of tons of crowds before. Having so many people that know what they're talking about is really nerve-wracking." Nonetheless, Layne Putnam did decide to perform that night. Despite her previous worries, nothing of the such was exemplified in her performance.

The seventy-five GRAMMY CAMP LA attendees will continue to pursue their musical aspirations over the duration of the following ten days. Designed to display the students' passion for music, GRAMMY CAMP LA will allow these carefully selected students to thrive in and breathe music for their time spent at the USC Thornton School of Music.

In the Spotlight

Kevin Burke

Attended GRAMMY Camp New York 2011, 2012; GRAMMY In The Schools Media Team 2012


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