Josephine Cameron '98 joins the Bowdoin College Concert Band to bring sounds of the college—both past and present—to the Bowdoin community on Sunday. The concert is the third in a series titled "Friends" in which the concert band has collaborated with notable headline performers.
Since her graduation in 1998, Cameron has become well known for her folk song performances and recordings, but her interest and passion for music originated before her college experience.
"I was convinced that I would be a music major, and I started out on that path," Cameron said. However, Cameron credits her first year seminar, "Music, Music, and Words," for complicating that plan.
"There were only four people enrolled in the course," Cameron said. "Yet, it was one of my favorite courses at Bowdoin, and probably one of the most influential. I began to think seriously about how words and music worked together in various forms." From this formative experience, Cameron went on to take creative writing courses and subsequently majored in English.
Music, however, remained a huge part of Cameron's life throughout her college experience. Cameron attributes much of the experience to the fact that she was in an indie-rock trio called "Eponine." The band played all over campus, at the old pub in Moulton Union and the new pub that opened Cameron's sophomore year, the Women's Resource Center, on the Quad and, as Cameron jokes, "anywhere people would take us." It was also at this time that Cameron began to delve into traditional folk music and explore bluegrass music.
While Cameron was earning her MFA in creative writing at the University of Notre Dame, she began to channel her literary passion towards songwriting. From there, Cameron added original songs to a traditional American folk song repertoire. Upon moving back to Maine in 2000, she recorded her first full-length album, "American Songs Volume 1."
Following her first album, Cameron went on to record four more. On her most recent album, Cameron collaborated with a fellow '98 Bowdoin classmate and Nashville musician, Carter Little. The album includes many original compositions and has been widely praised. One of the songs was included in a children's book/CD project by poet Nikki Giovanni called "Hip Hop Speaks to Children."
In addition to releasing albums, Cameron has also created a program called "Songwriting for Kids." Cameron explains that this program "uses traditional American folk music to each children the basic elements of songwriting."
"It's been a blast," Cameron said of the program. "It's amazing to see both the fun, creative stuff the kids come up with and the way they interact on a very deep level with some of the traditional, historical songs."
This weekend's performance does not mark a return to campus for Cameron; she is the History Department Coordinator for the College. However, it is a new and exciting musical opportunity.
"This is my first time collaborating with a Bowdoin ensemble," Cameron said. "I'm looking forward to living out my secret dream of being a 1940s Doris Day-style big band singer! I'm also looking forward to singing in beautiful Studzinski Auditorium."
In addition to playing with the Bowdoin College Concert Band, Cameron emphasizes her excitement about the opportunity to play once again on campus.
"I will always be grateful to Bowdoin for encouraging my love of music and writing. It didn't seem like such a big deal at the time. I was just playing music, writing, having fun. But looking back, I can see that the people and the opportunities I met at Bowdoin have honestly shaped the course of my life."
Cameron and the Bowdoin College Concert Band under the direction of John P. Morneau will perform at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Studzinski Recital Hall at Kanbar Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.