Her lyrics are poetic, her chords fresh — although Annie Blackman ’20 is not a professional musician, she already has a large repertoire of songs and quite a few fans.
This was clear in her performance opening for the band Soccer Mommy on Wednesday, April 26 in the Horn Gallery. The crowd was small but intimate and full of fans who knew Blackman’s songs by heart, singing with her during many of the verses and all of the choruses.
Blackman has worked hard to get to where she is today as an artist. She began learning guitar the summer before sixth grade, inspired by Taylor Swift, who was just beginning her ascent to fame. In middle school Blackman wrote several unfinished songs but did not begin to write complete songs until her first year of high school. As she matured emotionally, so did her music. “It was a combination of me being ready to commit time to a whole song and also having all of these new feelings,” she said.
She often comes up with verses during class: “Instead of doodling, I’ll try to think of rhymes.” After coming up with lyrics for the first verse, she begins to craft the music while writing the rest of the verses. She developed this style of songwriting out of necessity. “I don’t have a tight grasp on guitar theory,” Blackman said. “I’m not someone who is super great at technical stuff. … I rely more on lyrics.”
Her writing process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few months, depending on whether she is at school or at home for the summer, or how long she wants the song to be. In terms of subject matter, Blackman said, “A lot of it is about relationship stuff, romantic feelings. It’s easiest to draw from those feelings for me.”
In high school Blackman was nervous to perform because she was worried that the subjects of her songs would be embarrassing, but by the end of senior year, with college on the horizon, that fear went away. She first performed in June of her senior year of high school, and her first Kenyon show was at an Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) event in October of her first year.
She draws inspiration from Pinegrove — a Kenyon band that also happens to be from Blackman’s hometown in Montclair, New Jersey — as well as Sidney Gish, Frankie Cosmos and Mitski. “If I try to emulate someone, it’s more in lyrics than in melody, but every time I find a new artist, I try to think about how I can pull from it,” Blackman said.
Blackman is unsure if she is interested in pursuing songwriting professionally, but definitely wants to keep music in her life. “Whatever I want to do in my professional future, I want it to have to do with writing, but not necessarily music,” she said. “It’s something I plan to keep doing forever, but not with my career.”
Music can be found on annieblackman.bandcamp.com and on soundcloud.com