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UNC junior Faith Jones is creating her first EP after a lifetime surrounded by music

Faith Jones
UNC student and singer Faith Jones in the Student Union on Friday, February 1, 2019. Jones is releasing her first album later this month and has a show at the 506 on February 22.

When Faith Jones was 6 years old, her voice was recorded for the first time on her family’s Christmas album. 

Since then, Jones’ life has been encompassed by music. She takes and teaches voice lessons, has been involved with musical theater and is a co-conductor for Tar Heel Voices, an a cappella group on campus. 

Now a junior at UNC, she has found an alternative way to study through creating her own EP, “Self-Study.” A single from the EP, "The Absence of Light," will be debuted Feb. 22 at Local 506.

“Making this EP has required a lot of introspection and getting in touch with who I am as a person and who I am as an artist,” Jones said. “I am working to make a very original project that feels true to who I am. It is a journey of embracing my artistry.”

Jones said she draws inspiration from many musicians and genres of music. Jones’ passion for music stemmed from her family. Her father is a pianist, her mother is a vocalist and her older brother and sister both produce their own music. 

Aside from her family, Jones cited Queen and Michael Jackson as influential players in her love of music. Popular and musical theater artists Maggie Rogers, Lady Gaga and Stephen Sondheim are some of Jones’ favorites.

These influences play into Jones’ sound, which she describes as a mix of rock, jazz, musical theater and singer-songwriter drama. As a songwriter, Jones said she strives to be honest and transparent with her challenges and with the notion that struggle should be acknowledged rather than shunned. 

“I pride myself on being a very honest person,” Jones said. “I hope people feel inspired by my honesty and that they feel like they can be honest with themselves about things like mental health.”

Jones wrote her single “The Absence of Light” while in a state of depression, and hopes others can be inspired by the idea of honestly embracing challenges. 

Jones has spent hours writing and recording for her EP, as well as coordinating with musicians and promoting her Feb. 22 performance at Local 506.  

Joining her on stage will be a few backup singers from Tar Heel Voices, including president Molly Smith.

Smith described Jones as compassionate, devoted and courageous. She also said Jones’ a cappella arrangements are the group’s strongest pieces due to her willingness to take risks to create unique sounds. 

“Faith is a very established voice student, and it was time for her to branch out and have something to call her own,” Smith said. “Creating this music is 100 percent the right choice for her.” 

Along with creating the lyrics for her songs, Jones also wrote the accompanying cello part for her performance as an additional challenge. 

Marc Callahan, assistant professor of music at UNC, works with Jones three times each week for private lessons, studio classes and recitals with other voice students.

“Faith has a naturally very beautiful voice, and learning the regimen of the daily practice schedule and the routine of studying voice has helped her line up her voice and to get rid of any tension,” Callahan said.

Callahan and Jones work on technique as well as self-expression and musicality.

“Faith is learning to understand poetry — not just the poets she is singing, but she herself as a poet and a writer,” Callahan said. “It is one thing to interpret somebody else’s work, but to find music that comes from you touches much more closely to who you are as a human and as an artist and as a singer.”

Jones is busy with all of her musical endeavors, but she said she stays grounded because she loves all the ways music plays into her life and allows her to express herself.

“To me singing is meditative," Jones said. "It can be its own prayer.”

After graduation, Jones said she hopes to move to a large city and gain her footing as an artist by pursuing musical theater while continuing to create her own music. 

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“It is hard to be a music student and to think about pursuing music post-graduation because there isn’t a clear set path,” Jones said. “I just want to dive in and keep creating no matter what.”