Written by Elise Steele
At first glance, Stratton Tingle may look more like a band member than an Executive Director, with his waist-length dreadlocks and black-denim jackets, but that’s exactly the type of creative personality SoundCorps needs.
SoundCorps, a nonprofit music-organization based in Chattanooga, helps local artists create a platform and voice, even in times of social-distance and struggle. This community-oriented program creates a network of resources to amp up Chattanooga’s music ecosystem and aid musicians in their journey.
Tingle helped officially establish SoundCorps in 2015. Since then, SoundCorps has diligently supported local musicians and connected industry workers throughout the community. Rachel McIntyre Smith is one of those artists. She currently works part-time as a musician, but has high hopes of making it big one day.
“I would love if a group of moms belted out one of my songs at a karaoke night,” says McIntyre Smith.
According to her, music communities tend to be competitive and unfriendly, but Chattanooga is different.
“Everyone that I turned to, to find answers about what I needed to do, was willing to help me,” says McIntyre Smith. “I don’t think that’s something you find in every city.”
However, the unexpected restrictions and obstacles of the pandemic quickly challenged her support-system. SoundCorps quickly ensured that their artists knew the kind of money they were eligible for, according to McIntyre Smith. Thanks to the state grant, “Tennessee Cares,” SoundCorps was able to provide over $100,000 in relief checks to area musicians, according to Tingle.
“I was kind-of worried that during COVID, maybe some musicians had decided to give up playing music, give up playing gigs, or go somewhere else to play,” says McIntyre Smith.
While the limitations of the pandemic caused many businesses to go under, SoundCorps was fortunate in their quick-actions and perseverance.
“If we had not, as SoundCorps, quickly rolled with the punches and looked for opportunities, we would certainly have gone to the wayside,” says Tingle.
Under normal conditions, SoundCorps relies on public fundraising events and live performances to keep them afloat. With these options challenged, SoundCorps turned to live-streaming. From this transition came the successful program, “Bandwidth.” According to Tingle, Bandwidth offers high-tech equipment (provided through the state-relief grant) and a professional venue to provide musicians with a safe and consistent online-performance platform.
Bandwidth and its devotion to local artists serves as a beacon of hope, keeping the music community active and connected on a daily basis, even without the reliance of public performance.
“The creative spirit is the thing that will bring us, not just through this hard time, but will ultimately make the world a better place,” says Tingle.“The future looks bright.”
SoundCorps will continue to create and connect with the Chattanooga’s music scene, lifting local voices in times of hardship.
Visit SoundCorps’ website http://www.soundcorps.org to donate or learn more about their organization.
Follow Rachel McIntyre Smith on Instagram @rachelmcintyresmith, and check out her new single, “Baggage.”
Collin Cantrell is a Communication minor writing and producing audio for Rising Rock at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His skills are shown from the many leadership positions he has held throughout college, including Student Body Vice President. Collin enjoys sharing his love of music with others by playing his guitar and singing. Collin loves hard and wants everyone to feel a sense of belonging.
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Amanda Brooks is a senior at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and acts as the Assistant Editor for Rising Rock. She has a background in marketing and is a writer, photographer, and proficient public speaker. Amanda is passionate about storytelling and utilizes her minor in Theatre to bring stories to life. To view more of her work or contact her, visit https://sites.google.com/view/amandabrooks/home?authuser=0.
Logan Stapleton has worked in multimedia productions, including photography and videography, for six years. Stapleton understands the sports story perspective, knows just what to do to capture high quality photos, and soaks up anything and everything he is taught. Stapleton’s hobbies include street photography and learning more about the world of photography through YouTube and Instagram. For great still photography and Adobe proficiency, you can reach out by: firstname.lastname@example.org, (423) 779-6484, and Instagram @stapletonstills.
Elise Steele is a creative writer and journalist. Her poetry has been published in University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Sequoya Review, Z Publishing’s Tennessee’s Best Emerging Poets 2019, and in Spring of 2021, Cornell University’s literary magazine, Rainy Day. Elise is twenty-two years old, living in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her two cats. She’s been writing since she was a young girl and to her, writing is a useful outlet to understand herself and the complexity of the lives around her.
To get in contact with Elise, email her at Stm245@mocs.utc.edu.