Faces of Rhodes

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Connor Cain ′14

Hometown: Houston, TX
Major: Music—Double focus in voice and composition

Research interests: Composition, songwriting, producing, arranging, Latin, poetry, film and video game scoring, US History, how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop

Extracurricular activities: Rhodes Singers, songwriting, singing, guitar, piano, writing fiction, “Songwriters Anonymous” (songwriting support group), Minor 49ers, stargazing, Rhodekill Ultimate Frisbee, video games

Tell the story of how you got to Rhodes College.

I was looking for a school with some academic wiggle-room, since I wasn’t sure at the time if I absolutely wanted to choose music as a career path. The liberal arts curriculum looked appealing to me in that sense, and the strength of the music department (in particular, the professors) was a plus. One of the greatest draws to Rhodes for me was the financial aid. That’s not to discredit the other great advantages that attending Rhodes offers, but for me that was a rather big one.

How have you changed since beginning your studies at Rhodes College?

Rhodes has helped me grow immensely, both as a musician and a person. I think this is mainly through the professors. The professors here are amazing—some of the best, most professional and caring people I have ever met, and I am very grateful for that. I’m also thankful that a lot of them aren’t afraid to call you out when you need it. Professor Andrew Drannon (the “Drannon Cannon,” who teaches composition) has helped me improve immensely as a songwriter, which I think is both where I needed the most work when I arrived and where I have improved the most. I subject most of my professors to my songwriting experiments (sorry, profs), and I appreciate how honest each professor is, even telling me pretty directly if something isn’t very good (*ahem,* Professor Lay). I think Rhodes has rounded me out quite a bit, and has helped improve and fortify academic and social weaknesses.

You’ve been very involved with the music program here at Rhodes. Tell us about the opportunities you’ve had through this department.

I think I realized how special the music department was second semester of my first year. For the annual choir tour with Rhodes Singers, we went to Washington D.C. and performed at the Kennedy Center. Pretty freaking sweet! Rhodes Singers has really been a big part of my life, and I’ll be sad to move on from it and from everyone I’ve grown accustomed to interacting with through Rhodes Singers. I’ve also really appreciated the applied lessons at Rhodes. The gains you make if you work hard are very drastic. I also love the flexibility of directed inquiries through the music department. I’ve been doing a songwriting DI through Dr. Bass, and I’m getting to organize music events on and off campus, as well as record some of my own material while involving other students. The Rhodes music department also does not spare any expense in getting some really solid guest speakers and performers, and it’s been great getting to see some great talent in intimate settings. All in all, the music department has never ceased to help me grow as a musician.

How do you think getting a liberal arts education will help you reach your future goals in music?

After I leave Rhodes, I will be pretty focused on songwriting, but I’m definitely grateful that Rhodes has forced me to take classes of a disparate nature. I believe that many academic subjects can be utilized in practicing the arts (particularly music), and I’m going to do my best to incorporate what I’ve learned into my songs (poetry and Latin are obvious examples—even if only lyrically). I also love the variety of people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and interact with at Rhodes, and I think this experience will help me in forming strong business relationships post-graduation.

What are your plans after graduation?

Currently I’m considering a couple of job offers in Nashville, so I’ll probably end up there. I’m also really fond of the Boston music scene, so I suppose that is always a possibility. First things first, though—right after graduation I’ll be taking a month-long coma (probably food induced) and then road-tripping around the U.S. with a few friends.

Compiled by Ali Swee ‘16

Tags: Music, Texas