Freshman Lucy Teller held her guitar as naturally as if it were an extension of herself as she played before the Cap House audience Tuesday night, Oct. 13.
That is surprising, given that it had been only a year and half since she first started taking formal lessons with recording studio owner Rick Hayes.
Yet, in that short time, she has already recorded and released her own self-titled EP with four original songs and one cover.
Teller has been a singer since her childhood in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“I’ve always loved music more than anything else,” Teller said. “I don’t think I really saw [a career in music] as a real opportunity because I just assumed you were born into the industry. I thought it was unrealistic to try to pursue that.”
Still, Teller began writing songs when she was 13.
She took scattered piano lessons with several teachers at the school of Irish music in her neighborhood, the same place where her older brother Will, a member of The Stillwater Hobos, learned to play the fiddle.
It was not until three years ago that she taught herself to play the guitar.
Teller had the opportunity to take lessons with Hayes after he taught her older brother, Micah. The Teller family knew the studio owner through a mutual friend. Micah took the lessons as part of his discernment before entering seminary to become a Dominican priest.
After six months of their lessons, Hayes learned that she had written songs of her own.
“So I told her, ‘go ahead and play me one,’ ” said Hayes. “She did, and it was very, very good.”
After this, Teller’s lessons turned into recording sessions.
They pooled their efforts for an album, which began as a “senior project” during Teller’s last year of high school.
In the sound booths in Hayes’ basement, Teller learned to play the guitar in the most practical way for recording. She brought in a couple of different songs for each session and worked on layering the different parts of the music.
“If I had any doubts about wanting to be a musician, that [experience] definitely sent those away,” Teller said. “[The recording sessions were] so much fun.”
Teller started at the University of Dallas this August, despite initial reluctance to attend the same school as her older brothers.
“The idea of more school when I could be pursuing music kind of killed me a little bit, but I needed to get out of Ohio. I was ready to go somewhere,” Teller said. “This is a good way to go and I’ve made really great friends.”
Judging by the encouraging whoops and murmurs of the enthusiastic Cap House audience, Teller has already made her mark on the UD community.
“It’s definitely easy to be skeptical of a young girl who’s saying ‘I want to be a musician.’ I can definitely see why that can be hard for people to accept,” said Teller. “And it generally is [difficult to] talk to people in the world. They tell you kind of to grow up. But everybody here has actually been really supportive and excited. They’ve all wanted to listen to my music, they’ve all looked me up on Spotify. It’s been so much fun.”
Hayes suggested Teller might use her experiences at school as fuel to aid in her songwriting. It also might give her time to fine-tune her genre, which both Hayes and Teller described as Americana rock acoustic with a singer-songwriter feel.
Teller wants to incorporate a soul aspect to her music as well, like one of her influences, artist Amos Lee. Other influences include Dawes, Gillian Welch and Bob Dylan.
Teller hopes that in ten years time she might be like the band Dawes, which she described as having a loyal and specific following that make it possible for them to release new music whenever they want.
In the meantime, she plans to keep playing wherever she can, including at campus events, coffee shops and other live music venues in the area. She also wants to record more in her brief time at home during Christmas break.
Having produced music for 30 years, Hayes has seen many people try to start a musical career, but he said Teller has a real chance of success. “She has everything it takes to do this for a living,” Hayes said. “I think she can achieve any goal she sets for herself.”
Teller’s music is available on Spotify, and her album is available for purchase on iTunes or her website, lucytellermusic.com.