Electric performances spark inspiration at Songwriters Showcase

Kyleigh Almich performs "The Carpenter” during the Songwriters Showcase on Monday at the Quad.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

Grand Canyon University senior Kyleigh Almich received special recognition Monday night for participating in the Worship Arts program's Songwriters Showcase over the last four years, and she did not disappoint while performing “The Carpenter” at the spring edition of the event.

It was the perfect finishing touch to her time as a student at GCU, an academic career highlighted by the inclusion of her song “Heaven Is Here” on the Canyon Worship 2022 album.

An ample number of freshmen among the 13 showcase performers were anxious to follow in Almich’s GCU footsteps.

Nate Padilla, a freshman who performed “Made Me New,” was moved that he was even allowed to perform at the showcase, an event that helps program leaders decide which songs will make it onto the next Canyon Worship album.

Nate Padilla debuts his song "Made Me New."

“This is super meaningful,” Padilla said. “God has blessed me with so many opportunities, and this is an awesome one. I’m so grateful he blessed me with it. I wouldn’t have wanted it to go any other way.”

Dr. Randall Downs, Worship Arts program coordinator, raved about the high quality of showcase applicants.

“We always have a great number of submissions, but this spring we had more than normal,” Downs said. “Students are writing, and they do all this on top of their schoolwork and getting ready for their academics. They’ve been wonderful.”

The Songwriters Showcase can be viewed as a reward for students who have invested numerous hours in their craft while handling their other studies, particularly as finals approach.

Linnea McCrady (center) sings "Psalm 91."

“It's a little bit of a breather,” Downs said. “The students rally around one another. More than anything else, the music is great, the community is just as good, if not greater. They’re supporting one another and hearing what people are doing.”

Freshman Jaylin Draper performed “My Life is not My Own” while handling the keyboards, with sophomore Talley Miller on vocals. The two reversed roles on “Strength Is in the Silence.”

“I was praying this morning and wondering about the aspects,” Draper said. “At the end of the day, it’s still worship. You have to trust God will put which songs in the album, and ultimately he’ll be glorified through it.”

Zach Johnson plays bass on Noah Bjorkman’s “Surrounded by Your Grace."

Miller was thrilled to have an opportunity to sing as a supplement to her songwriting passion in a setting void of visible competition.

“They’re really good at picking which songs get chosen for the showcase and the album,” Miller said. “The songs are so much different than the others, so you already don’t feel competitive.

“Even with that, what is there to compete against? Everyone is so different you can’t compare better or worse.”

Linnea McCrady loves that GCU allows students to be creative while providing plenty of resources at no cost.

Jaylin Draper performs "My Life Is not My Own” during the Songwriters Showcase.

“I think because it’s a worship album, it’s cool to see everyone believe it’s not about us,” said McCrady, who teamed with fellow freshman roommate Jenna Maier on “Psalm 91.” (The lyrics go, "You are my sanctuary, you draw me from this noise.”)

“We get to use our creativity and the gifts we’ve been given to do something bigger for the Lord. It takes the focus off us, which really is a relief. It’s just fun to be part of something that’s for the Lord and not for ourselves.”

Freshman guitarist Zach Johnson is a member of the Varlets and will have a single called “Lights” on the market April 26. The selection group thought enough of Johnson’s talent for him to perform “Rest” with Shailen Stewart and “Dichotomy” at the showcase.

“The Worship Arts program is like a family, a strong community,” Johnson said. “People are trying to help each other.”

GCU News senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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Related content:

GCU News: Songwriters add harmony to a cozy Songwriters Showcase

GCU News: Fearlessness propelled ascent to Canyon Worship

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