By Teresa Blackman
Whether in her role as a sheep in “Candide,” a performer at Groundhog or a regular at Cap House, you have probably heard the vocal talents of the University of Dallas’ own Bebe Bloch. After graduation, Bloch, a senior English major with a music concentration, plans to take her musical talents beyond the UD bubble.
Music has surrounded Bloch her entire life, so recording and performing her songs is the natural next step.
“I’ve been working, thinking about it, I want to release an EP, like the [Stillwater] Hobos did, not planning on touring or anything, just a collaborative effort to release good music,” Bloch said.
She plans to start by teaching private lessons and writing more songs.
“I want to end up in Asheville [,North Carolina] because I love their music scene, I like that…busking, people playing on the streets is very acceptable there,” Bloch said. “People just get into it, mostly folk, Appalachian type music. I’ve been there twice and their music scene was great.”
Though perhaps unconsciously, Bloch has spent much of her life training to share her music. From learning piano at age six to studying poetry here at UD, her well-trained ability has developed into a signature style. That style, though, is hard for her to define.
“I can only really describe it in terms of the people I’m influenced by,” Bloch said. “I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan. I also want to be quirky and innovative like Regina Spektor. I aspire to have the level of creativity of Neutral Milk Hotel. I think their sound has really influenced me a lot.”
While Bloch has done a great deal of collaborative work, she said her style best fits the solo work she will be doing for her album.
“Being a solo artist, you’re completely bare…stripped down, that’s also very complementary of my style,” Bloch said. “I try to say something with my lyrics. I think there’s something valuable in a stripped-down sound.”
Much of the meaning in her reflective lyrics comes from literary influences.
“A lot of my songs, the most successful ones, come about right after I read a really good piece of literature or a really good poem,” Bloch said. “I know that sounds like plagiarism, [but] those images really stick in my head and then I take those … combined with this sort of experience that I’m having right now in my life.”
Senior Monica Dickson agreed that Bloch’s lyrics have a “very strong poetic element.”
“The lyrics we had together had different allusions to literary works. One, which was called ‘The Sailor’ had allusions to the ‘Odyssey’ and Greek mythology,” Dickson said.
These classical allusions fit her classic voice, which senior Mary Fougerousse, who has collaborated with Bloch on many occasions, describes as “lilting, and delicate, reflective, [with] a 1940s type of vibe.”
Though her own music may have a literary, lilting character, Bloch brings her talent to many musical genres.
“Different genres, different styles of music require a different style,” adjunct music professor and voice coach Dee Donasco said. “So, you have to be able to adapt. Versatility is a huge asset, and Bebe’s got that.”
Though she admitted that Bloch is well-trained, Donasco added that perhaps more importantly, Bloch understands the real value of studying music.
“What good is it to study music if you can’t apply it? It’s an applied thing — that’s what’s so unique about singing,” Donasco said. “I ask students, ‘Why do you sing? Why have you chosen to study voice?’ And most of the answers I get are, ‘Because I like singing,’ but it’s so much more than that. There’s a yearning inside us that wants to speak out, so we sing, because we have something to say, and Bebe was one of the first students who really got that.”
Bloch agreed. “I think that that’s really, really important — the live performance aspect of [music] — even though electronic music has furthered massive hearing, I don’t think anyone could ever say live music isn’t important.”
Whether it is in teaching private music lessons or performing on the streets of Asheville, Bloch’s delicate melodies will remind listeners of just how important music is.