Features

The “Chapel Sessions”

Eastern’s trio of singers grace Walton chapel

“Being at Eastern has shown us how to use gifts effectively and how to be thankful for them. God uses these gifts, and singing is our gift back to Him.” Against the backdrop of the gilded mosaic in Eastern’s chapel, three beautiful women sit, sing, and commune together. Though seemingly angelic, they are dedicated to making good music, sharing it within their community, and reveling in the gift of beautiful sound. They are the women of the Chapel Sessions, a trio of harmonizing students whose videos have been circulating on various social media platforms. Their names: Emily Bristel, Laura Thomas, and Emily Strout. Each of their voices is as talented as the next, and when combined, creates a wondrous noise. In each music video, the trio sings in Eastern’s chapel, drawing inspiration from the wonderful acoustics and the reverent beauty of the space.

The women began what they immediately dubbed the Chapel Sessions following their participation in the most recent Coffee House, where they sang what is now their first Chapel Session, “Kaleidoscope Heart/Hit the Road Jack.” Having normally practiced in the stairwell of Gough Hall, the three talented singers changed venues because “we just really like the acoustics,” Bristel says. After the reception of their first video on Facebook, the group decided to continue. Thomas says of the group’s decision, “The first one was really well received, and we thought, ‘Wow, this could be a thing.’”

Individually, each musician emits the creative spirit that begets great music. Bristel says, “Over the years I’ve learned to incorporate music and the gift of creativity that I’ve been blessed with.” A junior studying communications, she believes that learning how to creatively communicate aids in the development of new musical ventures. Thomas, also studying communications, says of her experience, “Once at college, I didn’t have as much time in my schedule to do structured musical things, but I really enjoyed jamming and being creative and having this outlet.” Strout, a senior psychology major, echoes this sentiment: “I look for fun, creative outlets, and this has just been the best one.”

For a group of musicians that share a need to express their creativity through their musical talents, their inspirations vary greatly, from bands such as The Head and the Heart to the love of family members, boyfriends, and friends. This inspiration is channeled into and throughout their music and ultimately comes to fruition in the philosophy of the Chapel Sessions. Strout encapsulates it well: “Even though we’re not singing worship songs or hymns every time, we’re in a chapel, and I still feel spiritual and close to God when I’m singing.”

What can we expect next from the all-female group of singers? They already have three videos, each shot from a different angle in the chapel and presenting a distinct song and arrangement: “Kaleidoscope Heart/Hit the Road Jack,” “Below My Feet,” and “Turn it Around.” In the future, we can expect some original songs from the harmonious trio, new and innovative instrumental use, and as always, nearly ethereal sounds coming from the heart of Eastern’s chapel.

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