“I loved every second of it,” says Sam Kulp of his recent experience in the Nashville music program sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Kulp spent the entirety of last semester honing his singing and songwriting skills in the “music capital of the world,” as this hub of musical activity is often titled. According to Kulp, the program felt like a mini version of being a real life rock star, from writing songs, to performing with a band, and getting work criticized every week by the head director during what students in the program called “hammer-time.” In the end, that criticism was helpful: “It was really rough, but I wouldn’t have written decent songs without it because your ideas aren’t as good as what could be.”
Since returning from Nashville, Kulp has been hard at work getting his music out for the world to hear. His EP, “Bright Eyes,” is currently available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify. There’s something there for every kind of music lover, from the sweet, mellow harmonies of “Bright Eyes” to the old school bluesy-rock of “Witness.”
The response has been good so far. On top of support from family and friends, Kulp says, “I have had some people that I don’t know who have messaged me on Facebook from California or Oklahoma or something, like, ‘Hey, I found your stuff, this is really cool,’…It’s a really good feeling.”
When it comes to musical taste, Kulp is all over the map: “I’ll listen to heavy metal or hymns…If I ever made an album, it wouldn’t all be the same; it would be all over the place.” His primary interest, though, leans towards “old school blues,” especially classic artists like Joe Cocker, Led Zeppelin, and Janis Joplin. Those influences started early on. Kulp says, “When I was really young, like six probably, my dad got me my first couple CDs, and it was Pink Floyd and Zeppelin…that’s all I really knew for a while.” By elementary school, Kulp had branched out into choral music, which he stayed involved with all through middle and high school. Some might be surprised to hear “choir” in combination with Pink Floyd, but it’s not a strange combination for Kulp. He says, “I love
the harmonies and everything that choral music brings to the table.”
Kulp’s interest in the blues, rock, and acoustic performance scene was sparked back in junior high, when he and a couple friends started a band. They stuck with it all through high school, packing out coffee shops and other local gigs with their performances.
As for the future, Kulp is eager to make his way back to Nashville, where he hopes to move in with friends he met there last year, and simply enjoy opportunities to play music in the place that’s famous for the thing he loves most. In Nashville, Kulp describes, “You’re surrounded by [music] at all times. It doesn’t matter if you go into a bar or a snow globe shop—there’s live music; it’s weird, but it’s awesome.” And while Nashville is definitely a prime place for a young artist to get gain recognition, Kulp says it’s ultimately not about that: “I would be perfectly fine with being a bartender or a waiter, and playing music when I can in clubs and stuff for the rest of my life. I don’t need to make a lot of money. I just want to play, that’s really all.”