From the Studio

Senior folk singer began street performing as a teenager

Nalae White | Staff Photographer

Julia Newman, a senior television, radio and film major, taught herself how to play the guitar and ukulele. Her music normally falls under the folk genre, but at times she also performs country and pop.

Growing up, Julia Newman watched as her grandma and older sister played piano. Early on she began taking piano and voice lessons herself, eventually getting involved with musical theater. It was in her junior year of high school that Newman began to write songs and teach herself guitar and ukulele, sparking her independent music career. From there, she began street performing in her hometown of Nantucket, Massachusetts, eventually booking night gigs at different restaurants around her town.

“To put yourself out there, in any way, is always scary,” Newman said. “There’s always going to be nights that are better than others, but to get positive feedback and to watch people enjoy your music is such a fantastic feeling.”

Newman, a senior television, radio and film major, stands out among other musicians her age because she categorizes her songs as folk — a genre often synonymous with music from her parents’ generation. However, depending on the song, the sound can alter and occasionally fall under the styles of country and pop as well. Though she hasn’t recorded yet, she is working on producing a few of her songs as her capstone project.

As a songwriter and artist, Newman’s inspiration comes from other songwriters and artists. Recently, the artist LP — which stands for Laura Pergolizzi — has captured her attention the most, but The Lumineers and Kacey Musgraves influence her songwriting as well.

“The way these artists can capture a story and sound through unique and brilliant songwriting is what I always strive for,” Newman said. “But also my inspiration comes from hearing music from my friends. Being exposed to different genres and styles is always important.”

As a common theme by many artists, it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest topics that Newman finds herself writing about is love and the various pains or pleasures that come with it. She also writes about family, different discoveries she makes, people she meets or her own life experiences. At times she combines songwriting with creative writing, making up her own stories.

With graduation looming in a few months, Newman is not quite yet sure how music is going to fit into her future, but she hopes to never stop writing and playing.

“If I could make a career as a songwriter or musician, that would be awesome. If I could fit in somewhere else in the music industry that would be great as well, or it could be kept more as a passion as I pursue other things. Just have to see how it works out,” Newman said.

Although she performs many of her own original songs, she plays the occasional cover, too. Her favorites include Kenny Chesney’s “Somewhere With You,” and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker.

Newman’s older sister, Jenah, is also a musician, but she has enjoyed watching Newman excel and occasionally will harmonize a tune with her when the two are together, just for fun.

“Julia has an uncanny ability to connect with her audience. Her voice is so refreshing. She has so many beautiful intricacies about her voice that make any song she is singing captivating,” said Jenah, including that Newman’s lyrics are always relatable and true.

Whitney Harrigan, a senior accounting and finance double major, met Newman freshman year in First Year Players. The two are now roommates, and Harrigan, although used to hearing Newman sing, also believes that Newman is a great performer.

“She just emotes with her face and uses good facial expressions,” said Harrigan. “And her songs are really catchy.”


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