Musicians and artists at the 5Cs come in hefty numbers. However, country artists are few and far between. An Albuquerque, New Mexico native, Teagan Stewart CM ’18 is embracing her passion for country music and utilizing her unparalleled talent to make a name for herself both within and outside the Claremont bubble.
At age six, Stewart’s adoration for music began to blossom. By the time she was 12, she was performing at events that her voice coaches helped coordinate, and writing her own music. With encouragement from her family, Stewart used this as fuel to continue pursuing a career in Country and Blues music.
“My family has been very supportive the whole time, which is rare,” Stewart said. “They were always telling me ‘you should dive into this, you should see yourself as an artist, you should be writing more.’”
While the act of balancing roles as a student and a singer can be an arduous task, Stewart seems to be navigating the challenge with ease.
As an International Relations and Literature dual major, she splits her time between her duties as a Logistics Coordinator for Model UN and a consultant at CMC’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse. She also sings the national anthem at various basketball, baseball, and volleyball games, and performs at open-mics.
To cultivate a career for herself in music, however, Stewart says it is crucial that she intensify her focus and dedicate an ample amount of time to her development as an artist.
“I need to put 100 percent into my music, which is something I’ve never done before,” Stewart said. “I’m always doing 50 percent in school, 30 percent in dance team, and the rest in other areas … that’s kind of scary; I’ve never focused on one thing before.”
As she continues to forge ahead in her journey, the distinction between her role as an artist and a musician is an important factor in remaining authentic and unique in her work.
“A musician could also be an artist but they might not be; they can just make a living playing anything,” Stewart explains. “An artist has to be a creator with a vision for what they want their sound to be.”
Another vital component of Stewart’s advancement as an artist is maintaining a deep dedication to authenticity in all of her music ventures, and in doing so, preserving country music’s distinctive identity.
The initial pull toward country for Stewart came from an appreciation for the genre’s raw and honest truth through storytelling. With pop music currently on the rise, Stewart has noticed a slight loss of country’s authentic side, as a result of the increasing dominance of pop crossovers.
And while country music is believed by many to be on the decline in terms of its popularity, Stewart remains insistent on dispelling the myth that the genre has reached a dead end. As the debate continues, one issue in particular has become increasingly apparent: an immense lack of female presence in the industry.
According to the most recent statistics, only 15 percent of female artists make up the country music charts.
“It’s more of a boys’ club than [that of] the rest of the music industry,” Stewart said.
In writing her own music, Stewart hopes to continue to direct country music back to its humble origins. March 2, she successfully launched a music video for her single “Water Wings,” which recounts an incredibly intimate and emotional narrative.
“It can be a general sense of watching someone you love go through a hard time,” Stewart said. “You do what you can do, and you can’t live their life for them. … there’s not really a victory moral; it’s kind of catharsis and raw, honest truth.”
Headed to Nashville in the fall, Stewart hopes to use what she’s learned over the past 15 years to advance her career. When asked about advice that she would give to aspiring artists, she honed in on two points.
“Be nice to everybody because it’s such a tight network, and most importantly, take time to read and learn about the music business,” Stewart said. ”You have to be able to brand yourself and be a real entrepreneur.”