Black Artists at Andover

Summer Seward ’21


Summer Seward ’21

Q: What aspect of singing is most important to you?

A: I think a lot of my music now is focused on my own stuff and my song-writing. So that’s kind of like an everyday thing and that’s like me learning more instruments, like trying how to learn how to play guitar. I’m getting better at the piano as well. Just finding my own sound and my own voice. So that’s something I’ve been doing a lot of recently and that’s definitely what I think is most important for me now—trying to finish everything or finalizing things on my album and things like that.

Q: How did you come with the idea of starting an album, and what themes does it encompass?

A: The more that I write songs, the more that I realized that people started to like my music and I was like, “Oh, I should release music.” I think a lot of my music is just continuous. It builds off of one another so you can put it together in that way. Cause it’s my life, it is my friends’ lives. It’s everything that I’ve experienced, everything that my friends have experienced. It all comes together like a big huge Andover experience, so that is the goal of this album, to capture that. I think it’s relatable in so many ways, but it is also individual, so that is the cool part.

Q: What is the song-writing process for you like?

A: A lot of the time I will get my piano, my chord progression, my beat, and just sing whatever feels right in terms of melody and lyrics. I feel like a lot of song-writing just flows, cause I’ve done it in a different way. A lot of people [write songs] by starting with lyrics, with the melody, and then they find their chords. I think then you’re trying to force something that is not really there. I think when you have a song, [or] when you have your chords, or when you have what you want your sound to sound like, then you are able to fit whatever fits already. A lot of the time that just comes naturally. That just comes from whatever you have heard before, and whatever you’re feeling at that moment.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: You cannot force a song in general. I think a lot of the [time] when I start to write, it’s either about something that happened to me or something I heard today. I heard my friend say something and was like, “wow,” the way they articulated that kind of encapsulates how a lot of people are feeling in this moment. I take that scenario and I take what happened to me today and things like that, and get down and I’m like “this is my story today.”

Q: What instruments have you included in your album?

A: So I start on my piano, I have my vocals. I love bass so I include a lot of bass from the computer. You can put in your drums, you can put in your beat. I used a little bit of violin, a little strings in there. I do a little bit of electric guitar sometimes. There are some songs that are super stripped down that [they are] just [the] piano and me, and others that are all the works, so it is a balance.

Favorite Paresky Commons meal?

A: Stir fry.

Favorite tv show?

A: “Gilmore Girls.”

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

A: [I would want to be able to] eat whatever I want and still be in shape.

Pineapple on Pizza?

A: No.

Kate Horton ’22

Kate Horton ’22

Q: What music groups are you part of?

A: So I started out in Chorus. At the beginning of my Lower year, I got into Fidelio as an Alto II. A little bit later in my Lower year, I got into Downbeat as an Alto I. So those were the three that I was in. I’m still in those three, but now I sing Soprano in Fidelio and Tenor in Downbeat.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a singer?

A: I sing because I love to sing and I grew up singing. A lot of what I do, I do for fun, rather than for a specific end goal. When I was really little, my mom wanted to be an opera singer actually. She instilled a lot of music into me, whether that came through classical music or musical theater. So I grew up listening to broadway. And I think that evolved into this deep passion for singing. I think that music is one of the ways that I can really express myself so I try to be really emotive when I sing and I try to be very intentional with what I sing. I am a passionate singer.

Q: What is a memorable moment that sparked your passion for singing?

A: We used to have this musical camp at my church where we would put on these short church plays and musicals. I auditioned to play the king. I remember being on that stage and looking at the other side of the room. It was the first time that I felt like I was not producing music; I felt like music was coming out of me. I absolutely fell in love with that feeling of getting to unleash a side of myself, whether or not it was in front of an audience, that I did not really know how to show anywhere else.

Q: Do you have a favorite or least favorite song to perform?

A: I can’t say my actual least favorite song cause Dr. Siegfried’s going to get mad at me! My least favorite song is “Cells Planets”. One that stuck with me is “Live the Question” which Fidelio did last year. But outside of that, I can’t answer that. There [are] too many.

Q: Who or what inspires you the most?

A: My friends in Chorus. It’s because I do not think that singing at Andover or even being at Andover would be as fulfilling as it would be without them and I think because of that, I don’t think that I would love singing as much as I do if I weren’t doing it with my friends and people that I love spending time with. As much as I love to sing by myself, the people that I get to sing with make it worth all of the time and effort.

Q: Favorite Commons meal?

A: Cheese tortellini. Period. Point blank. I love cheese tortellini.

Q: Favorite TV show?

A: Right now I’m binging “Criminal Minds,” so I’ll have to go with that.

Q: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

A: Telekinesis. I’m just so lazy. If I could play the piano with my mind or if I could get stuff from the fridge and not have to go out of the bed. I could even do my homework with my mind.

Q: Pineapple on pizza?

A: No, I don’t like pineapples. Period. I like to have it plain. Either with just cheese or pepperoni.


Denise Taveras ’21

Denise Taveras ’21

Q: How would you describe yourself as an actor?

A: I guess I’m a very dramatic person and that shows a lot in how I perform different characters. The characters I played are influenced by certain aspects of their identity. For example, I did a show called ‘For Colored Girls’, and it was very much about women of color, specifically black women, and some of the trouble the black women experienced… I try my best to put as much as myself into it without being too connected with my characters, just because a lot of the shows I like to be in and like to read and interact with tend to grapple [with] some of these complex ideas and experiences. So I try to protect myself with that. But also try to respect the story through showing the pain or if there’s like a lot of joy in that in that character or in that situation [or] in that scene, I try to really play that up so that the audience understands.

Q: What stood out to you about theatre?

A: I feel like there’s a special type of energy that you get when you’re interacting with art that is moving and live. Even with music, I love singing but I hate recording. It just doesn’t have the same energy. In theatre, you can do something different in that moment, and then other people will be able to notice that, and they’ll be like, “wow,” this might change how I understand the story. Or this might change how I relate to this character. And I feel like theater is just also really great because you have an hour [or] an hour and a half to show a part of someone’s life. And then, that can influence how people understand themselves or the world, or people who are similar to the main character, or who are in similar situations as the main character. And that’s such a small amount of time. I think that’s really cool.

Q: What would you say inspired you to start theatre and keep pursuing it on campus?

A: I know that I mentioned earlier that the theatre department on campus is very white. And a lot of what I try to do now is that I try to provide more spaces for people of color to find their community of artists, of performers of people who understand. It’s been really hard the past [year] just because of Covid-19 [to] get people connected. But now that I’m a producer, I can try to reach out to more students of color who are new and be like, “Hey, if you want to do a monologue, this is something you can do.” I have [an Advance Practical Theatre Application class] that I’m directing, and the entire cast is comprised of students of color and the show is about a woman of color and her experiences in Cuba and in the United States. And it’s really important for me to, you know, bring that up, and to provide these spaces for students, and performance of color just because, you know it’s so tough… But opening up these spaces is really, really important for me.

Q: Favorite Commons meal?

A: I like curly fries when they have them.

Q: Favorite TV show right now?

A: Oh gosh, Anne with an E.

Q: If you could have any superpower what would it be?

A: I wish I could just make other people fall asleep. I’d be in the middle class and my teachers talking and I’d be like oh you’re tired now. And they’d just fall asleep. I think that’d be very useful.

Q: Pineapple on pizza?

A: It’s a no for me. I’m not much of a pizza person, to begin with. I don’t like the idea of sweet mixing with salty. It irks me.

Niara Urquhart ’21

Niara Urquhart ’21

Q: How would you describe yourself as an actor?

A: I would say, as an actor, I really enjoy portraying characters that I relate to on some level. It can even be something super small. But I like playing those characters because I feel like I can embody them the best and make the audience feel something.

Q: Why do you believe embodying a character is important?

A: It’s really important to me to embody the character because I like to think of characters as [three-dimensional] as much as I possibly can as opposed to just, this flat character because it’s our job as actors to take this character off a page and bring them to life as a fully-fleshed person. And I feel like that’s easier to do when you can relate to them in some way, shape, or form.

Q: What initially attracted you to theatre at Andover?

A: Definitely the community. The first show I auditioned for was ‘Ragtime’. I did not get cast, but I met a lot of really cool people at the audition. We ended up in chorus together, which is another activity that I really enjoy and have been doing for a long time. And just a lot of people in my circle were really into the arts [and] really into expressing themselves in that way on stage as performers. Just having that community of people who get what I wanted to do here was really important and really drew me to theatre.

Q: What is your experience as a director on campus?

A: [Directing] has really allowed me to connect with myself on a level that I normally don’t, or had not when I first started. Because I was really putting myself out there, with the student body or whoever came to the performance, the things I did were really close to my heart. I really had to think a lot about what story I wanted to tell, not just in terms of the words being spoken, but in terms of blocking, lighting, and inflection, because we had other cast members as well. So I had to drag them and be like what can they bring to this? It’s just the whole process of creating something that is going to be performed by others and with others really forced me to think about all the different things that go into being a performer and telling the story on stage to other people and figuring out how to utilize aspects of each person involved.

Q: What’s your favorite Commons food?

A: Tater tots.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show currently?

A: I’ve been watching Nurses on Hulu and I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s like Grey’s Anatomy, not gonna lie.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: I would have the power to morph into anything. Because you can do a lot, and you can have a variety of different powers based on what you change into.

Q: Pineapple on Pizza?

A: I think that pineapple on pizza isn’t an acceptable topping. The only things that should go on pizza are dough, sausage, cheese. And then everything else is just an added accessory.