Williams showcasing the art of songwriting


WILLIAMSTOWN -- An upcoming three-concert series at Williams College, featuring Ithaca, N.Y. songwriter Joe Crookston, will treat attendees to the art of songwriting.

The series concludes with public performances by students who participated in the Winter Study Program.

"Songwriting is more challenging, because it is two genres," Bernice Lewis, artist associate at Williams College, said Tuesday. "You have to master music as well as language. Both compliment each other ... You get to play for unwashed masses. You get to write about day to day life."

Lewis, who teaches the intensive three-and-a-half week "Contemporary Singer/Songwriter" course for winter study, said each concert is free and open to the public.

The series kicks off Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. with a concert featuring Crookston, Lewis, and special guest Lucy Davis in Goodrich Hall. Crookston was recently awarded a Rockefeller Songwriting Grant and was winner of the International Folk Alliance’s Album of the Year Award.

Lewis, who teaches at Williams and Colorado College, said she has been involved with music for 30 years.

She said she invited Crookston to "enhance" students’ experiences. "I know a lot of wonderful acoustic people who play, and I love to share them with my community," Lewis said. "What better time than the middle of January when its hard to do anything?"

On Friday, Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to noon, Lewis and Crookston will offer a master class on songwriting in the Greylock Dining Commons’ Makepeace Lounge.

The series wraps up by showcasing the 14 students from Lewis’ class Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Goodrich Hall.

"The culmination of the class is in that performance," she said.

Lewis said students learn everything -- from ways to communicate a story through song to proper breath control techniques. The course also places an emphasis on providing constructive feedback during critiquing workshops.

"We learn about co-writing and performing -- some tricks of the trade so you can get up in front of people and connect with audience," she added.

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