Young musician shines through craft
For most artists, their passion isn’t a choice. It’s a part of their DNA. That’s no different for Copiah-Lincoln Community College freshman Betsy Berryhill.
“I feel like music has been embedded in me since I was little,” she said as she prepped for her upcoming performance in the Jackson Indie Music Week, which begins this Tuesday.
Berryhill can’t say when she first began singing, but she knows where her love of singing began.
“I grew up in a Primitive Baptist church where everything is sung a capella with the different parts,” she said.
Then when she was 7 or 8 years old, her parents bought her a guitar and added fuel to the fire.
For a long time, she focused on covers, but about a year ago she performed at an open mic night at “The Guru” in Louisiana. She had prepared a couple of cover songs, but realized that many of the other performers were performing their original music. After that, she dedicated her time to honing that aspect of the craft.
“I just kept writing even if it’s bad,” she said. “It’s kind of like exercise; you just have to do it.”
Although it has taken some polishing and she continues to work on it, the raw talent was there.
“It came from my childhood,” she said. “My mom read to us. We read books and poetry. It’s something that I’ve had, and I didn’t know it.”
The literature background has certainly added richness to Berryhill’s lyrics, but the music itself has been influenced by a variety of cultural aspects her mother exposed her to as a child.
Whether it was viewing a play or attending an orchestra performance, she experienced many genres that converge in her music.
“It’s always been there it seems like,” she said.
Pursuing music has also taught Berryhill an invaluable lesson — the importance of perseverance.
“It’s a lot of trying over and over again,” she said. “I’ve applied to things and been turned down.”
But she doesn’t let that stop her. Everything seems to come together at just the right moment to push her a step further on her journey.
“One person finds out one thing, and then they talk to someone else,” she said.
Plus it doesn’t hurt to have the massive support team she’s found in the Brookhaven music scene.
“There’s so many people behind me,” she said. “It really means a lot to me to have that support.”
When Berryhill first heard the Indie Fest was looking for Mississippi artists, she mentioned it to a close friend.
“He said ‘Let’s get stuff together, and see how it goes,’” she said. “You just have to put stuff out there.”
Berryhill really takes that to heart. Whether it’s performing with Co-Lin’s Soujourners or solo at Magnolia Blues BBQ’s open mic night, she’s constantly getting her music out there. More important than finding new fans, it helps remind Berryhill why she loves pursuing music.
One particularly poignant moment came when she was performing at Music and Art in Trinity Park this fall.
“It was just very chill,” she said describing a landscape of people lounging on picnic blankets. “You could really tell everyone enjoyed it. It just reminded me why I want to do it.”
Whether networking with other artists, honing her own craft or sharing her music with anyone who will listen, Berryhill is not giving up anytime soon. Her focus is currently on school and songwriting, but she hopes to continue getting her music out there and can’t wait to see where it takes her.