Artist Feature: Curtis Chapin

A lot of kids dream of being in a band, but most go only as far as singing into a hairbrush. Curtis Chapin, a senior music theory and religion and culture major, is one of the exceptions. Chapin has devoted both his free time and much of his time at William Jewell College to making and performing music.

“I developed a love for music before I was aware of it,” said Chapin. “I was constantly spinning CDs, obsessing over the melodies and imagining that I was a wailing with a guitar in my hands. As I got older, my true passion for music emerged in front of me.”

The son of two artists, Chapin originally thought that he would follow the path of many of his family members into visual art. However, his love of music drew him to the guitar.

“At age 10, I saved up my money and bought a guitar so that I could convince my friends to start a pop-punk band with me. In my estimations, we would be touring by the sixth grade.”

Photo courtesy of Rebekah Partridge Photography

While preteen Chapin did not end up starting a rock band and selling out venues, he did continue his avid devotion to music and guitar.

“By ninth grade I was playing electric guitar in a metal band, playing embarrassing yet formative local shows,” said Chapin. “I moved from band to band throughout high school playing ‘metal,’ contemporary worship music and heavy post-punk concoctions.”

While his free time was spent playing guitar in these different bands, Chapin found himself drawn to other types of music in the setting of his high school.

“I fell in love, unexpectedly, with choral singing,” he said. “In spite of my lack of vocal training I became obsessed with singing in high school choirs. I think my lack of training helped me approach classical music in a more childlike way. I was caught up in the feeling of creating music that was bigger than the individual.”

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This love and fascination continued to his college career. Throughout his years at Jewell, Chapin has been in several choirs, jazz band, and he describes himself as a “choir-kid through-and-through.” He also studies music composition and classical singing.

Outside of school, Chapin plays guitar and backing vocals to the band No Place. The band has toured and played in a variety of venues, including bars, churches, metal venues and outdoor festivals. Chapin says the sound appeals to “post-rock-sympathizing metal heads” and that “the rawness of the vocals falls in line with punk sensibilities.” Chapin has been a member of the band since before he graduated from high school.

“This group of guys clicked with me on a musical and spiritual level,” said Chapin. “Before I knew it, we were playing consistent shows, recording demos and doing small DIY tours.”

Although it is not specifically a Christian band, the members of “No Place” are all practicing Christians. Chapin states that the expression of their theology in their art and lyrics is organic and unavoidable. Moreover, Chapin says the band does not seek direct evangelism.

A photo of No Place from the band’s Facebook page.

“We see our ‘ministry’ on par with a craftsman who builds cabinets for the greater glory of God,” said Chapin. “The craftsman doesn’t need to carve Bible verses into the side of each cabinet or hide gospel tracts in between the shelves to get the point across.”

After leaving Jewell, Chapin plans to make music a constant part of his post-grad life.

“I want my twenties to be a time where I can nurture myself as a whole musician who can be easily transplanted between disciplines and projects,” said Chapin. “I plan on teaching guitar and voice, joining a professional choir and composing consistently after I graduate. The Jewell music department has definitely prepared me for that.”

Chapin admits that the idea of making music a full time career is a daunting one.

“Sometimes I struggle to take myself seriously when I say that life after Jewell means crawling into a van with my grungy comrades for the foreseeable future. That’s not exactly what anyone would want to see on the bio of a Jewell Faculty Award nominee.”

Photo by Kyle Rivas
Photo by Kyle Rivas

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