Two weeks after graduating from Bowdoin College in May 2005, Samantha Farrell left behind a rural, Maine summer and moved across the country to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of being a singer-songwriter.
"I knew that if I thought about it for too long I wouldn't do it," Farrell says. "And so I fell off the face of the earth, basically. I moved out for anonymity and so I just packed it all up and went out there."
Farrell lived in Los Angeles for a little over three years and worked "every awful job I could think of—nineteen in total—every random odd job to support myself and still have the opportunity to pursue my music."
"You know," she says, "I was there and I didn't know anything about how to do this and so I just started playing at coffee houses. It's what everyone does who moves to L.A. and doesn't have a foot in the door. It was a real learning process and it was a transition, but a transition that my time at Bowdoin definitely helped me with."
While at Bowdoin, Farrell explored and honed her passion as an aspiring singer-songwriter. She was a member of Miscellania, one of the college's a capella groups, and also performed with fellow musically inclined classmates around campus.
"Singing with Miscellania was super important in my development," Farrell explains. "I sang with them and I had this feeling that, 'OK I love this so much. This is something I'm supposed to do.' I also did a lot of arranging for the group. I arranged all the time which really gave me the opportunity to work on how to compose and write music structurally."
Farrell adds that it was singing with Miscellania and performing separately that really eased her into the world of performance.
"Playing and singing at Bowdoin got me in front of people," she says, "and because of that, I got that rush of performing. That feeling that if I don't sing, my head will explode."
Following graduation, it was that musical intoxication that pushed Farrell to move between coffee houses in L.A. performing half-hour sets and forging connections. After two years of this artistic transience, in the summer of 2008, Farrell's current day job boss introduced her to former musician and member of the Dave Matthews Band, LeRoi Moore.
"Being introduced to Moore was such an amazing coincidence," says Farrell, explaining how her boss bumped into the music she had put online. After doing so, he passed Farrell's music on to Moore, who was at the time trying to branch out musically from the work he was doing with the Dave Matthews Band.
"Moore loved my music," Farrell says. "Which was just ludicrous because I had completely idolized him while I was growing up. I played the flute and the saxophone when I was younger and he is that big pop sax figure in the Dave Matthews Band. I loved him and when I got this e-mail from him that said basically 'I want to meet this girl, she's great,' I just died in my little cubicle!"
"And it's unbelievable how quickly we bonded on a major geek level," Farrell says of the relationship she formed with Moore. "It was just amazing how quickly we became really good friends. I hung out with him and his fiancée for a week, talking about sci-fi movies and life and music. Just hanging out and the next thing I knew he was asking me to come out to his house in Charlottesville, Virginia to work on my music with him."
That week, Farrell quit her day job and drove across the country to Virginia where she settled herself in one of the Dave Matthews Band's mansions to use one of their personal studios.
"Moore was the first person to really understand what I was doing. To instantly understand," Farrell says. "He didn't stick me into various boxes that the music industry had already erected. He never once said 'Why don't you try to be more like this' or 'Sing more of these songs.' He was the first person in the business who just listened to me and said 'That's hot, don't change. I want you to just do you one hundred percent. Be true to your musical vision.' It's truly amazing to get that validation from someone you respect so much."
Farrell describes that summer in Virginia as the most pivotal summer in her career. "It was an intense, amazing summer of constantly doing music. Just this incredibly intense and beautiful period of time. Moore and my band and I had this mutually shared artistic understanding. As an artist, that is something you only hope you'll experience at some point in your life."
It was late in that summer of musical fruition that Moore passed away following his freak ATV accident. Farrell describes the period of the accident and the following months as "very dark at a lot of different points."
"On top of the incredible sorrow I felt at the loss of such an influential figure in my life," she says, "the production of my CD also became much more complicated."
It wasn't until this past May that Farrell regained control of her music and was able to finish the record that she and Moore had worked so hard to produce.
"It's very special to me, this record," Farrell explains of her project entitled "Luminous", which will be available on iTunes and CD Baby by mid-September. "It is the last thing Moore was ever working on and it means a lot to me that I have this opportunity to put it out into the world."
Farrell's release of her CD "Luminous" coincides beautifully with her trip back to Bowdoin on September 18 during which she will perform for the College community.
"I'm so incredibly excited to come back to Bowdoin to play," Farrell explains. "It's so special to be able to come back and play. This is what I've passionately been doing since I left and I want to share it with the community that helped me so greatly to get started."
"I learned so much at Bowdoin. I didn't just learn that there's this talent and if I use it other people will feel good too. Bowdoin really taught me to think. How to be thoughtful and intelligent. How to use common sense and understand what you've got yourself into. It really helped me realize how wonderful and important it is, this passion for music."
Farrell points to her Bowdoin professors as seminal to her growth and learning. Be it her advisor or an art history, sculpture or creative writing professor she encountered along the way, Farrell explains that "they were all incredibly pivotal people in my life who helped me realize that I needed to do art. That we were all creative people, that it's the hardest thing I could do, but that I could do it and that I had to."
Farrell will sing at the "Shameless Plugs" concert in Pickard Theater September 18 at 8 p.m. She will be speaking with students at 3 p.m. the same day to discuss careers and interests in performance and music.