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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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From backyard performance to Rudder Auditorium

Ben+Rector
Photo by Provided
Ben Rector

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Ben Rector is set to return to College Station to perform Sunday in Rudder Auditorium on his “Brand New” tour, just a month after his last visit.

In early September, Rector gave a special backyard acoustic concert at the College Station residence of some enterprising Texas A&M students.

Yahoo! Live sponsored a “Ben Rector Live From Your House” contest, and the grand-prize winner received a 60-minute acoustic performance from Rector in their home. Participants had to submit a video of themselves lip-synching to the title track of Rector’s latest album, “Brand New.”

Danielle Smith, Sawyer Wilson and Leah Hale, all Class of 2016, were among the 120 people who helped create the winning video, with help from fellow roommate Kathryn Beazley who could not attend the day of filming. They recruited some friends who were photographers and videographers and it snowballed from there. More and more people came to help and contribute in whatever way they could.

“The ideas were really a group effort,” said Wilson, university studies senior. “One of our friends had the idea to turn our backyard into a living room and that really sparked a lot of the creativity.”

Smith, environmental design senior, said the coffee-shop-like feel of the video required a lot of help. She said the design for the video featured plenty of borrowed couches, chairs and Christmas lights hung around the backyard — not to mention the handcut confetti.

“We did a lot of dumpster diving and got a lot of couches from friends,” Smith said. “As far as the tone of the video, with the string lights and coffee shop feel, it all just kind of came together and worked with the song. It was perfect.”

It was a big surprise to all three roommates when they found out they had won.

“I was in the car with Kaylin Arrington who was on the media crew for our video, and she pulled the car over and got out and yelled ‘Ahhhh! We won!’ and we both started screaming and freaking out,” said Hale, a disciplinary studies senior. “Meanwhile, elementary school kids across the street were walking home and were probably scared of us thinking we were insane. It was an awesome feeling.”

Noah Rodgers, telecommunication media studies senior and the director of the winning video, got the chance to teach some of the Yahoo! Live crew some video tips on the day of the concert.

“We sat in the kitchen and watched Noah’s video because they were so impressed that they wanted to learn from Noah, like the shots and everything,” Smith said. “He’s phenomenal.”

The trio hosted about 200 people for Rector’s concert. He performed songs from previous albums and also played “Brand New” live for the first time.

“My favorite part was just sitting still for the first time in a few days and seeing everything actually come together,” Wilson said. “I also loved everyone breaking out into the choreography that Leah and I made up for the video when we were singing our hearts out to ‘Brand New.’”

After the concert, Rector stayed behind to talk with the roommates about the process they went through to put the winning video together. He also shared some funny stories from his career.

“Ben’s music, specifically ‘The Men That Drive Me Places’ made me reflect on my own life,” Hale said. “Ben is a talented artist, but he will even tell you not to put him on a pedestal. He is very humble and he reminds me to remain humble through life as well.”

Ben Rector will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday in Rudder Auditorium.

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