Tag: UTC

Singer Songwriter Series

Through a series highlighting young singer songwriters, Rising Rock Media decided to showcase the musical talents that hide in Chattanooga. With genres ranging from folk, americana, and rock, each musician creates a wide variety of talent that ought to be brought to light. This series focuses on each musician with a music video of Spencer Denning’s song “Pen Pals,” Rachel Smith’s recording of “Wedding Blues,” and Jamesen Rees’s recent spotify released song “The Weight of Change.” Through sharing each of these artists musical talent, Rising Rock attempts to bring about focus on the talent right on UTC’s campus.

E.Richter Spencer Poster photo for onlinecSpencer Denning poses for a photo in Cadek Hall on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. Denning was there participating in a music video with Rising Rock. (Photo by Elian Richter)

Spencer Denning

— Written by Katie Raabe

When you combine the poetic talent of Ed Sheeran with the wits of Betty White, you get Spencer Denning.

As a Knoxville native, Denning is an aspiring singer, songwriter, and pianist, as well as a full time student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As a junior Communication major and English minor, Denning is able to transfer those skills into his songwriting.

His praiseworthy musical talent, however, has not always been a focus for Denning. He rather stumbled upon his singing ability after auditioning for musical theatre on a whim in high school.

Shortly after realizing that he was actually good, he began taking singing lessons that helped him physically train the vocal muscles needed to improve. While he only took singing lessons for a short period of time, they were instrumental to his current growing success.

Denning’s most recent song, “Pen Pal” is about the letters he wrote to himself when he began to lose sight of his goal. Nearly dropping out of school after his first year of college, his purpose was unclear to him causing him to become unmotivated in school.

After some soul searching, Denning realized he needed to find something he was passionate about or all of this would not be worth it.

Denning began to write as a form of therapy, which ultimately ended this doubtful phase of his life. Those letters and journal entries became the story of “Pen Pal.”

The song shows Denning’s raw talent through its harmonious and melodic tone.  By pairing his soulful voice with a mezzo piano, he creates a transparent song that repeatedly captures the attention of his audience.

Denning’s inspiration is primarily derived from Ed Sheeran, which in turn, created a merge of indie folk and americana music. His musical style seamlessly mirrors his personal aesthetic as a “granola frat boy,” as he describes.

Denning now has a clear goal of obtaining success in the music and entertainment industry. He auditioned for The Voice in 2018, advancing to the last round before the live show and plans to further excel in this year’s auditions.

Through the unavoidable trials of a college student, combined with the pressures of a star on the rise, Denning maintains a patient and composed presence. He hybridizes his relatable experiences and captivating voice to produce music that is timelessly sublime.
Rachel env. portraits 2.28.190705

Rachel Smith poses for a photo in Patten Chapel on Friday, March 1, 2019. Smith explained that she sings, writes music, and plays piano and guitar. (Photo by Elian Richter)

Listen to the audio of “Wedding Blues” here:

Rachel Mcintyre Smith

— Written by Justin Metcalf

Rachel Mcintyre Smith is a senior Communication and Spanish major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga whose commitment to music began at an early age. A singer-songwriter who can play up to four instruments, Smith’s music ranges from sincere and emotional to sarcastic and upbeat.

“I’ve always been an uber competitive person in school and the girl who was competitive with me in class would always go back and forth with me to see who made the highest grade,” Smith said. “She started taking piano lessons, so I called my dad and I was like ‘sign me up.’”

This competitive spirit developed into Smith’s love for piano. She continued these lessons for 10 years, performing in various concerts and recitals. She also participated in piano competitions every year and won the state competition twice.

Smith’s passion for music did not stop at piano. She picked up claranet for her school band in the 6th grade and continued this throughout high school. At the age of 15, she taught herself to play ukulele. A year later, she taught herself to play guitar.

“I started writing songs when I was in the 7th grade,” Smith said, “but they were very angsty and Paramore-esque songs because I was also that kid who wore colored skinny jeans and skater shoes, and I tried really hard to be misunderstood. So I started writing songs then but I didn’t start writing what I consider mediocre or good songs until I was near the end of my freshman year of college.”  

She began singing and playing piano at her church when she was a junior in high school. She then traveled to Nicaragua where she performed in local concerts and taught music lessons at a church for two consecutive summers. Now, she leads music at a college ministry and performs in their worship services.

“I’ve written Christian songs before, and that’s definitely played a big role,” Smith said. “I love southern gospel groups and their harmonies, and in Christian music the lyrics are really important, and that also taught me a lesson about song-writing because, in my opinion, if the lyrics don’t mean anything, then the song doesn’t mean anything.”

Some of her other musical inspirations include Carole King, Feist, Kacey Musgraves      and Taylor Swift.

“I really like good songwriter lyrics, like clever lyrics,” Smith said. “Kacey Musgraves has a lot of those, so she’s probably one of my main influences especially for my snarky southern songs that are more upbeat.”

In her piano-based song “Wedding Blues,” she wrote about seeing her peers newly engaged or married on social media and how the same thing was not happening to her.

“When I wrote that song I was acknowledging that my self-pity was kind of crazy,” Smith said. “I’m just 21 years old, but it actually helped me get through that time where I just kept getting on social media and kept seeing all these people who were getting married.”

Songwriting allows her to compartmentalize and process her feelings, she said.

“Take an event that gave me a lot of pain or that I’ve struggled through,” Smith said. “If I’m able to write a song from it and tie it up in a neat little package, it’s just really nice to think of it as I have a song from this and not this really horrible thing happened to me. It really does help me get through a lot of stuff and helps me process it in a healthy way.”


Jamesen Reese sings at a Young Life gathering at the Signal Mountain Athletic Club.(Photo by Kaitlyn Evans-Witzel)

Listen to the audio of “Weight of Change” here:

Jamesen Reese

— Written by Cassie Whittaker

It’s not every day a student can be discovered who writes folk music on the weekends and has the vocals of a young John Mayer, but Jamesen Rees has these qualities and more.

As a marketing student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Rees’ love for music has continuously grown since the age of eleven. He started his musical career by playing guitar and shortly after he began to sing. During his middle school years, Rees played the saxophone, which he states, “Taught him a lot about music theory.” Once he gained a basic understanding of the fundamentals of music, he began to write his own music in high school, which he claims, “Were all pretty bad.” Listening to his music and lyrics now, this statement may be hard to believe. Along with writing music he performed at open mic nights in school in front of friends and family. He has come a long way since middle school guitar lessons and open mic nights.

Rees now records his own music in the basement of his parents’ house and releases these songs on Spotify and iTunes. This past Friday, Rees released a new song called “The Weight of Change” that has hints at his gospel journey while painting a picture of the changing season that is coming. He has two other songs called “Wait” and “Pure Imagination” which he says are about life and all that comes with it. These songs have a folksy vibe that would go along perfect with a morning cup of joe.

Writing, singing, playing, and producing music is a large task for anyone, let alone a fulltime student who is also involved in the youth ministry Young Life every week. During Young Life Rees strums the guitar and sings while the high schoolers sit circled around him. It is apparent these kids love watching him perform every week. One of his fans at Young Life asked

“Is Jamesen a Rockstar?” and the answer to that question is yes.


Mentioned Music Venues: This graphic shows a map view of the three music venues mentioned in the article below. Graphic By Marielle Echavez

Chattanooga to be Classic Tennessee Music Town

— Written by Lauren Justice

Nashville and Memphis are known as music capitals of the south. Chattanooga is catching up to the Tennessee music scene and is rising to the expectation of a true musical city.

With locations such as The Signal, Songbirds, and the Tivoli, Chattanooga has expanded its accessibility for artists to play in various hot spots in town. Local artists and famous bands have opportunities to play in small and large venues downtown.

Colleges in and around Chattanooga like UT Chattanooga, Lee University, and Southern Adventist University, have excellent music programs that have inspired young artists to pursue careers in performing. They have the ability to do so in this city as opposed to traveling all the way to Nashville for opportunity. Music students have plenty of opportunity to perform in local restaurants and venues.

Spencer Denning, UT Chattanooga student, independent artist, and contestant on The Voice, said the best part about the music scene here is the sense of community. “Everyone here is really supportive.”

Chattanooga is not known for one type of music, like Nashville is associated with the country genre. All performers and bands are welcome to show off and entertain crowds.

Riverbend Music Festival is a very popular event that music lovers go to indulge in music of all backgrounds and genres. Bringing this festival to Chattanooga has increased the musical tradition in Tennessee as a whole, while connecting Chattanooga to the music tradition.

Chattanooga is evolving into a true music city, furthering the tradition of music in Tennessee.

Meet the Storytellers


Elian Richter

Elian Richter works as a photojournalist and action photographer. He has experience covering events such as USA Boxing qualifiers and Presidential arrivals on Air Force One. Elian has had works published on Rising Rock Media and the UTC Echo. In his free time, Elian enjoys rock climbing and being outdoors. Contact Elian Richter at wbn751@mocs.utc.edu.



Katie Raabe

Katie Raabe is a Communication major and International Studies minor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga planning to graduate in May 2019. With a focus in Creative Writing, Katie is passionate about people and telling their stories in expressive and visual forms. Contact her at hfr546@mocs.utc.edu.



Kaitlyn Evans-Witzel

Kaitlyn Evans-Witzel is an artistic photographer who focuses on weddings, elopements, and portraits. She loves the 1970s and country music and incorporates those styles into her photographs. Johnny Cash is among her favorites. Her work is displayed on vintagekaitlynphoto.com and she can be contacted at dzm674@mocs.utc.edu.



Justin Metcalf

Justin Metcalf is a junior at UTC who studies communication and psychology. Justin enjoys writing for the university newspaper, and their favorite pastime involves curling up with a warm tea and watching horror movies. They hope to continue their education in psychology and become a counselor for LGBTQ youth.



Cassie Whittaker

Cassie Whittaker is a graduating senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in Communication and a minor in Spanish. She plans on pursuing a social marketing career in the private sector and is experienced in writing and presenting marketing plans. Her interests include volunteering and hiking around the city of Chattanooga which drives her toward a career that helps other people. Contact me for opportunity in these fields at qss692@mocs.utc.edu.

_MG_9263Lauren Justice

Lauren Justice is a senior at UTC, majoring in Communication. She is experienced in marketing, journalistic writing, public relations, and design. After graduation she wants to continue working for her current company, Red Bull, by transferring to the record label. Contact her at nsf433@mocs.utc.edu for details.



Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a junior pursuing a degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology. She manages her own branch of custom apparel on campus. She has a passion for videography and being creative. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Contact her at wcb788@mocs.utc.edu.



Blake Davis

Blake Davis is a Senior Communication Major at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is passionate about creating and telling stories through a video camera. For over 6 years, he has been improving his craft in videography. He also loves playing Spikeball and is a collegiate National Champion. He can be reached at rlp233@mocs.utc.edu.


Video Produced by Rising Rock

Charlye White-One day at a time


Brianna (Charlye) White is both a student at UTC and a single mother to her son, Princeton. For the past two years, she has been juggling her course work, her job, and motherhood. She talks about her struggles, and how she manages balancing all of her responsibilities. By taking it day by day, Charlye White will graduate with a BA in Communications this December 2018.






Meet the Storytellers

Picture4 copy

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete studying Communications and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is one of the editors for UTC’s literary journal and is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism.



Troy Stolt

Troy Stolt is a student photojournalist based out of Chattanooga Tennessee, where he is the photo editor of the UTC student newspaper, the University Echo, he has experience covering news, sports, in the creation of multimedia, studio portraits as well as making featured photos. His work has also been published University relations, Nooga.com, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Cade Deakin ECHO WEB

Cade Deakin

Cade Deakin is a photographer and videographer based in Chattanooga, who has worked at the student newspaper, The University Echo, while completing a communications degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and completed a media internship making promotional photos and videos at Songbirds Guitar Museum.




Copyright 2018, Rising Rock Media, all rights reserved.

Alex Ogle: Sights Set High

Written by: Katie Haremski
Alex Ogle makes a photo during her Echo photo assignment at Main X 24. Saturday, December 1, 2018. Photo by: Katie Haremski

UTC Communications and Psychology junior, Alex Ogle, has her sights set high as she approaches her last year of college. While a projection for early graduation came as a bit of a surprise, she couldn’t be more excited for what the future has in store. For many, college is a time of exploration of one’s self and Ogle is no exception from that. During her time in college she has explored several different paths specifically in the Communications Department.

The Knoxville native kick started her college career in the fall of 2016. Over the past two and a half years, she has found a deep love for broadcasting and photojournalism. While Ogle claims that she is “not musically talented”, she has a deeply embedded love for music. Her love for music brought her to having her own show on WUTC. She said, “It’s cool to be able to play whatever music you want”.

Alex Ogle signs her photo. Her photo will be hung in the COMM department. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Photo by: Katie Haremski

Additionally, she loves photojournalism. What started as a class, has now become a passion. Ogle is currently in her first class in photojournalism, but will be continuing her “PJ” education next semester. At the end of the October, she joined The UTC Echo Photographers and feels like since joining she has grown in her craft.

What some may not know, is that Ogle is legally blind. Her right eye is corrected to 20/60 but her left eye is 20/300. She doesn’t have peripheral in either eye due to retinopathy of prematurity. Despite that, Ogle said that it is not a defining factor of who she is.

“I love capturing moments and reminding people that [this] is what is going on. That photos can lead to change.” Ogle said that it’s really special that one can capture a moments in time.

Alex Ogle waits for photo to print out. Her photo will be hung in the COMM department. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Photo by: Katie Haremski


She said that when she first started photographing she “didn’t feel like she was good at it” but as time has past, she has continued to make connections and photos. While “the dream” is unclear, she goes back and forth on whether she wants to seek after photojournalism as a profession. One thing is clear, is that she does have passion for storytelling and capturing emotion.

Ogle’s WUTC show can be heard on Mondays at 10 PM and her work in The Echo can be found on http://www.theutcecho.com.






Meet the Storytellers

haremski headshot

Katie Haremski

Katie Haremski is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Outside of contributing to Rising Rock, she is the Creative Coordinator at Counsel Creative and the Features Editor at The Echo. Katie is a storyteller, writer, designer, social media marketer and photographer.






Copyright 2018, Rising Rock Media, all rights reserved.



Rising Rock Poster.jpg

What is time? Three UTC students sat down with Dr. Joshua Hamblen, a UTC physics professor, who contemplates the meaning of time and its effects on us. With the time change coming up on November 4, 2018, everyone will set their clocks back one hour, effectively losing one hour of daylight each day.







Meet the Storytellers

haremski headshot

Katie Haremski

Katie Haremski is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Outside of contributing to Rising Rock, she is the Creative Coordinator at Counsel Creative and the Features Editor at The Echo. Katie is a storyteller, writer, designer, social media marketer and photographer.


Ashley Rutledge RR headshot copy 2

Ashley Rutledge

Ashley Rutledge, a Chattanooga native and senior communication student at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, plans to work in the marketing industry after graduation. Her skills include social media management, public relations and graphic design.


kiefer headshot

Phillip Kiefer

Phillip Kiefer is an international Musician and amateur photojournalist with skills in multimedia production and marketing strategies. He is a senior at UTC studying communication and anthropology. His interests in local music and the outdoors drive him to produce fun and informative stories.










Copyright 2018, Rising Rock Media, all rights reserved.

Why We Walk

Christian Watson participates in the UTC ROTC’s 11 Hours of Remembrance around Chamberlain field. The memorial went from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., making sure that the American flag never stopped circling the field. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 (Photo by Allie Schrenker)

Captain Kevin Beavers walked onto Chamberlain field with one goal in mind–to remember the impact of 9/11.

“We’re just having conversations,” Beavers said. “The biggest thing with us, in the military, is that we never forget. Someone is truly never forgotten as long as you speak their name.”

From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Captain Beavers encouraged people to show up, be patriotic, and tell their stories. And for 11 hours, the American flag never stopped circulating the field, passing from one pair of hands to another.

Both UTC students and members of the public were encouraged to show their support by walking or running laps around Chamberlain field.

UTC students Rhonda Watts, Brooke Burns, Morgan Hill, nd Pare Penne carry lags around Chamberlain Field in memory of 9/11, on Tuesday September 11, 2018. (Photo by Elian Richter)

Candy Johnson, a community member and apart of the Chancellor’s Multicultural task force, participated in the event. Johnson was in college when she heard about 9/11. “I thought the world was ending,” Johnson said, “I thought we were going to have another world war.”

Johnson said her participation in this event was out of reverence than respect and that she was “honoring the military for continuing the mission that was established that day.”

Stephen Zurlo carries an America flag around Chamberlain Field as part of a memorial service for 9/11 on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. (Photo by Elian Richter) Zurlo said that he was in New York, at the age of four, during the time of the attack in 2001 and feels that he has a personal connection to the event.

However, some participants were too young to really recall much of the events of 9/11. Mason Beebe, a senior and member of UTC’s ROTC program, said, “I remember seeing it on TV and that it was a really big deal. It took a couple years to sink in.”

Eventually the impact did sink in. “It was an affirmation for me,” he said, referring to the events of 9/11, “This is why I want to serve.”

Christian Watson (left) and Bailey Ferguson (right) march around Chamberlain field to show their respects for the victims of 9/11 during UTC ROTC’s 11 Hours of Remembrance. Tuesday, September 11, 2018. (photo by Allie Schrenker)

Many different groups came out and showed their support during UTC ROTC’s event, “11 Hours of Remembrance.” Members of fraternities, sororities, and athletic teams walked laps around the field, holding the American flag high. Many veterans and current servicemen also paid their respects.

Avery Hurst, a member of the community and surgeon for the armed forces, also participated in the event. Like Mason Beebe, Hurst used the tragic event to fuel her own inner fire, inspiring her to become a surgeon and join the military. Hurst dedicated her walk to both her “strong roots in service” and the heroism of the first responders.

Army Recruiter Justin Jones participates in UTC ROTC’s event, 11 Hours of Remembrance on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. (photo by Allie Schrenker)

Captain Beavers wanted Chattanooga to remember the victims of 9/11 and the impact it’s had in this country. He set out to connect the past, present, and future of those who experienced it first hand and those who have only heard about it through history books. And through this event, “11 Hours of Remembrance,” he did exactly that.






Meet the Storytellers

Picture4 copy

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete studying Communications and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is one of the editors for UTC’s literary journal and is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism.


Tiffany Closson

Tiffany Closson is a senior marketing major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She studied luxury fashion in Paris and has spent time in photojournalism working with local stories. As a marketing intern she has knowledge in website analytics and social media management.



Brianna (Charlye) White

Brianna (Charlye) White is in her senior year at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in Communications. She is the Community Outreach Assistant for the Bethlehem Center, and a Writer and News Anchor for her school news media, Mocs News. Visit www.thbeth.org to view her work and email her at white.brianna17@gmail.com to learn more.

Jackson Hollis

Jackson Hollis has been a photojournalist for the UTC Echo for almost a year. He has shot many events for the paper including including parades, rally’s, sports events, and more. Jackson has lived in Chattanooga for over 3 years and loves sports and the outdoors. Jackson can be contacted either by cell (615) 479-5115 or by email jvaughnhollis@gmail.com.


Elian Richter

Elian Richter is an climbing instructor and action photographer. Elian works at High Point Climbing gym as a certified instructor and as a backup photographer. He now combines the skills learned from climbing with the skills he’s acquired in photography to do photo shoots for climbers and outdoors enthusiasts.



Copyright 2018, Rising Rock Media, all rights reserved.

Appreciating women veterans of Chattanooga

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs , the United States has around 21 million veterans. A little more than 2 million of these veterans are women.

While Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11 honors all veterans, Women in the Military Appreciation Day, on Nov. 7, specifically celebrates the women who have served or are currently serving in the military.

To pay homage to both Veteran’s Day and Women in the Military Appreciation Day, The University Echo interviewed three female veterans, who have ties to Chattanooga, about their service.

Continue reading “Appreciating women veterans of Chattanooga”