Story by John Cantor / Core Writer
The continuing student artist series “Music Mondays” swung into the new week this past Monday with the sweet songs of Match Records artist Chase Cimala. Cimala, currently a freshman at Middle Tennessee State University, is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from the small town of Somerset, Kentucky.
With a backdrop of twinkling colored lights Cimala sat perched on a wooden stool. A tall and round black table next to him was holding a small laptop with each of the pre-recorded instrumental tracks he’d be singing with.
Cimala began his set with an original song “Out In The Cold.”
“It’s the first single I ever released and it started this journey I’ve been on,” said Cimala.
The emotional ballad set a very intimate tone the rest of the evening, even as the young singer-songwriter bounced along to tunes with lighter themes.
Cimala led each song with an expression of gratitude to the 20 or so people in the room for being there at all. He would also tell a small story to lead up to each song.
One such story was of how he began his musical journey around the summer going into his junior year of high school by working with Grammy award-winning producer Mitch Dane.
“I had never wrote before. I didn’t even think it was possible,” said Cimala.
Throughout the set, Cimala introduced his own diverse musical tastes with covers of Post Malone’s “Better Now,” to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon.”
As he got into tunes more similar to “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” Cimala really laid into the swooning singer persona.
“It’s funny. I do like pop music and all that stuff now, but I grew up listening to this jazz influenced sound,” said Cimala.
“I remember watching the movie ‘Elf’ and they got that song… what is it? ‘You Make Me Feel So Young.’ I heard that and I was singing it up in my room and trying, trying to curl my voice, ya know,” said Cimala.
While writing more contemporary pop-flavored songs, Cimala has a special place in his heart for all of these old smooth singing and swinging tunes.
“I wish that stuff was still popular. I love that stuff and that genre of jazz has been a huge influence on me and my sound and I’m trying to incorporate that texture and that sound and bring back that classic baritone sound. I feel like pop music is missing that right now and that’s what I’m kind of trying to do,” said Cimala.
Cimala introduced some more originals such as “Love,” a song that attempts to be a unifying message of understanding between one another. The message was pleasant but very simple, not taking any sides in the many issues and problems facing people all over the world but serving as a youthful plea for people to stop hating and love each other.
“Hating somebody isn’t going to fix any of that. So one thing I really realized was maybe what we’re missing is love. Maybe the problem with all of this stuff is that we just don’t love each other enough. So this song is called ‘Love’ and it’s just about treating people like you would want yourself treated,” said Cimala.
At this point in the set Cimala refreshed himself with the water bottle on stage and began to walk around the stage really taking in the weight of each tune.
He lightened the mood with more covers, including a shortened radio pop friendly version of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
“Does anyone here know how to speak Italian? Nobody? Then I’m going to do this song, because I can’t either. I didn’t want to offend anybody,” said Cimala.
“I’m gonna do my best. I memorized what it sounds like,” said Cimala.
He then swooped into the opening Italian lines of Dean Martin’s “On an Evening in Roma.” Which then transitioned into the English section of the Italian-American inspired tune.
“Honestly I don’t know how appropriate that song is for a crowd of college students, but I promise you back home the older women eat that up, literally out of your hand,” said Cimala.
Whether it was Paul Simon’s “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes,” or Michael Bublé’s “Home,” Cimala seemed to have a very sentimental touch in the songs he chose to play.
He talked of his Nana who introduced him to much of the music that inspires him, and joked of the nicknames he would get in school for his musical passion.
“My high school math teacher gave everybody nicknames. And my nickname was ‘The Crooner’, because they called me that in a newspaper article one time. They were like ‘14 year old crooner woos garden party.’ It was literally an old ladies garden party,” said Cimala.
Whether grinning through a humorous story or soulfully sailing through a more serious song, Cimala combined his love of the past with modern pop music. Ending his set he showed he cared a lot about his own past, where he grew up, with his farewell to his early youth “Cheers To My Teenage Years.”
“There’s a lot of good to be said about where I’m from,” said Cimala.
Cimala talked of how his town didn’t have all the parts of a larger town or city such as a big music scene or sports team, etc.
“That’s just not how it is. We have a lake and four churches and that’s about it. Everybody knows each other and you think ‘oh that sucks and there’s nothing going on here’ and I thought that for a long time,” said Cimala.
“And then as I started to approach my senior year, I was a high school football player and was in my car and it hit me that this was my last go around here. I felt sad and I don’t know why I was sad or I didn’t at the time. I was like ‘We should be happy, why are you moping? You got your better days ahead’,” said Cimala.
“You realize it’s not necessarily what a place has to offer it’s what the people there have to offer you. The memories I made in my hometown, they shaped me into the young man I am today,” said Cimala.
“Cheers To My Teenage Years,” made for a bittersweet ending to Cimala’s set. Reflecting on the small town of Somerset he has left behind for school and a future music career, he also touches on moments he will miss most of all, bad and good that brought him to this stage in life.
“I made a lot of mistakes and a lot of people came into my life just to leave. That’s part of it. But I wouldn’t change a thing about where I’m from. I’m so grateful and I wish that I had realized that a lot sooner because I was missing out on so much that was right in front of me because I was dreaming about going somewhere else,” said Cimala.
You can catch more fantastic student acts like Chase Cimala next Monday when MT Spare and Match Records continue their “Music Mondays” series.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Ashley Barrientos, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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