This summer, two Deerfield musicians, Willow Woodward ’22 and Christina Li ’20, have been hard at work writing, producing, and releasing original songs. Their work has been met with praise from friends, mentors, and fellow musicians alike.
Woodward’s latest single, “For the Love”, was released on July 4, 2020, about 7 months after her debut single, “Superman.”
Woodward’s goal in writing “For the Love” was to celebrate the importance of love in a person’s life, and to capture the precious feeling of being with those you love. She believes this theme is especially necessary now, given the current state of the world. “If you look at the world right now, there is so much hate and fear and intolerance,” said Woodward. “This song is meant to show people what it’s like to be brought together in harmony, through music.”
Siobhan Kelley ’22 agreed that “For the Love” represents more than just romance. “It feels to me that it’s about living in the moment, enjoying life, and feeling grateful for everything you have,” said Kelley. “That’s how Willow treats life, which is so rare these days, and I think that’s really special.”
Just four days after its release, “For the Love” had already been streamed over 1,000 times on Spotify. It has already been featured on various music blogs as well as on FM radio campaigns. Woodward is not a stranger to such accolades for her work. Since its release in December, “Superman” has gathered over 15,000 streams on Spotify and over 2,500 views on Youtube. It has also been on a radio campaign that reached 1.4 million people.
Throughout her life, Woodward has informally written and recorded many songs. She chose to keep these drafts between herself and her family, but since her beginnings in official music production and working with a songwriting mentor, she plans to release more of her work. She hopes to put out an album around Christmas 2020, made up of about seven to nine songs. The album will reflect her pop-oriented roots with hints of indie style that has characterized both “Superman” and “For the Love”.
Having already released a single, Li will release her first EP, Strings, later this summer. It is composed of seven songs, each playing a part in representing the greater whole of her journey of self-questioning and growth throughout the years.
When naming her EP, Li was inspired by a detective’s mystery board. She envisioned an eclectic mix of photos and information pieced together using strings, and in a similar way, her EP strives to connect the many different facets of her identity.
In December 2018, Li released her debut single, “Young and Reckless”. She said Strings is somewhat of an extension of the single, featuring it as the first track of the EP to represent the beginnings of her self-exploration.
During Li’s sophomore year, she partnered with Thomas Lyons ’21 to perform “Young and Reckless” for a Deerfield audience. It was an experience that encouraged her to pursue songwriting more seriously.
“After that live performance, Christina spent a lot of time in the studio finalizing ‘Young and Reckless’, and I remember one Sunday we spent eight hours in the studio recording the drum track for the four minute song,” said Lyons.
“Golden”, the last song on the EP, is one that Li particularly likes because of her cathartic experience of writing it. It is a seven-minute piece featuring vocals and guitar, about her experience of dealing with privilege and “growing up ‘perfect’ in an imperfect world.”
“It reminds me of a Deerfield senior meditation,” said Li, “in the way that it is sort of fragmented and nonlinear, while staying personal to me.”
Li described her process of writing “Golden” to be particularly refreshing. “It is unlike anything I’ve written before. I actually originally wrote the lyrics as a poem. It is also longer than any other song I’ve written. It all just flowed out of me when I sat down to write it in May,” she said.
The Deerfield community is excited for the future of these two up-and-coming artists as Woodward’s “For the Love” continues to gain publicity and Li prepares for the official release of Strings.