The University of La Verne concert choir was practicing “Elijah Rock” for its concerts on April 15 and 16, when Associate Professor of Music Scott Farthing frowned at the sopranos and, motioning them to stop, said they were not giving it their all.
“Stop being little, sweet Kansas, and let it out,” Farthing said to Becky Tuttle, a junior music major and recording artist whose sound has been described as “simple and honest.”
And she did, clearly enjoying herself when the choir switched gears and began “Route 66.” She slapped her hand against her leg, moved her head and hips to the rhythm of the song as she sang and proved that, for her, music is home.
Tuttle, 23, grew up musical; singing in her church choir, performing in plays such as “Annie” and participating in community singing competitions in her hometown of Quinter, Kansas. Today, her involvement in the ULV music program and the Church of the Brethren provides a foundation for her individual work as a singer/songwriter.
Though her gift of song may have been obvious from the start, she did not acknowledge that she wanted to fulfill musical dreams until her sophomore year in high school. She was selected to participate in the State Honor Choir and had the opportunity to tour Europe for a month with her school choir and concert band the following summer.
“I realized it was something I could be good at and express myself through,” Tuttle said about her decision to pursue a professional music career.
Tuttle independently released “Last Day,” a demo of nine songs that she recorded while volunteering full-time for the Brethren Volunteer Service in Washington, D.C., in 2003.
She said she had come far as a self-motivated and self-taught guitarist.
“I think I’m continually growing,” Tuttle said. “I’ve begun to appreciate all kinds of music through the music I sing and play.”
She found the University through her volunteer work. During her second year of service, she served as a recruiter in Chicago, traveling to several colleges including ULV.
“I liked the people and the atmosphere and that even though the school was small, it seemed like a good college,” Tuttle said. “So I decided that if I could get the money to come, I would come.”
She originally attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, but after spending two years as a music major grew restless and decided to start anew.
“I was getting burnt out, and I didn’t want that because I loved music,” Tuttle said in reference to her state of mind before she took much-needed time off.Tuttle’s album is partly inspired by her volunteer experience; she said a handful of songs, including “She Knows,” “Why,” “Where You Are” and “Last Day,” were written about the difficult situations she witnessed while helping people find jobs and tutoring kids in the city.
“I had to deal with some of the things I saw,” Tuttle said.
Janelle Krug, a senior communications major, recently recruited Tuttle’s talents for her senior project. She has served as Tuttle’s publicist for the last few months, setting up shows at small venues and creating a buzz through flyers and press releases, as well as through a few Web sites.
Krug said Tuttle’s music was at once uncomplicated and pure; encompassing a much larger sound than one would think a lone person could create.
“It’s funny because it’s just Becky and her guitar, but when you listen to her CD, it sounds like a whole band is there,” Krug said.
“Becky is a great musician,” Krug added. “There is nothing really fancy about her music, it’s just simple and honest, and I think that is also how Becky is as a person.”
Renee Soliz, a senior music major, also said she had faith in Tuttle as a musician because of her determination, passion and know-how.
“She not only has a great style and feel about her music, but great talent behind it,” Soliz said. “She’s an educated musician on top of being a talented musician.”
Tuttle attributed her sound to her background; pieces of Kansas and her travels can be heard throughout her music.
“I think it has a lot to do with who I am,” Tuttle said in reference to her hometown. “Kansas will always be a part of me.”
Tuttle also said her family had encouraged her throughout her melodic journey.
“My parents were always supportive, a little weary of me being in a rock band, but always supportive of everything I did,” Tuttle said with a laugh.
Her plans for the future are undecided, but will definitely center on her love of music.
She said she was trying to stay open-minded as she explored her options and played it by ear, more or less.
“I know I want to do something with music for the rest of my life, but I’m figuring out what avenue I want to take,” Tuttle said.
“Music isn’t just music to me,” Tuttle added. “It’s more.”
Tuttle will perform at Coffee Klatch in San Dimas on April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Kady Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.